Air Force Drops Five-Game Heartbreaker to UNC-Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The Air Force volleyball team dropped a heartbreaking five-game match to UNC-Wilmington in the second day of action at the Sleep Inn Battle at the Beach Tournament in Wilmington, N.C. on Saturday (Aug. 27). Up two games to none (30-15 and 30-27), the Falcons dropped consecutive sets, 30-20, 30-26 and 16-14) to fall to 0-2 on the season.
Air Force took the first point of the match off of a kill from senior Kristin Hamlett (Escondido, Calif.). Following that up with the next three points, the Falcons never looked back. The host Seahawks tallied their first point at the 4-1 mark, but the Falcons were already in command of the game. Air Force pulled its advantage to 13 points before cruising to the 30-15 victory. Hamlett pounded down seven kills to lead all scorers during the first game, while, as a team, Air Force committed just one error to UNC-Wilmington's seven, while hitting .708 in the game.
An ace by sophomore Elizabeth Arrington (Bend, Ore.) opened the second game and once again the Falcons pulled out to the early lead, backed by four consecutive points that included a pair of kills by Hamlett. Air Force continued to dominate in the early goings of the second game, but the Seahawks fought back and pulled the score to within two at the 23-21 mark. Another kill by Hamlett, as well as one by senior Rebecca Gallegos (Las Vegas, N.M.) gave the Falcons some breathing room. Although UNCW pulled within two at the 29-27 mark, Air Force picked up the 30-27 win.
The momentum gained in the second half of the second game continued for the Seahawks in the third match as they quickly took a 4-0 lead over the Falcons. Three straight kills by Hamlett and a UNCW error tied the game at four, but UNC-Wilmington quickly regained the lead and pulled their lead to five Air Force again regrouped and sophomore Brooke Akers (Desert Hot Springs, Calif.) tallied a kill and an assisted block to bring the Falcons into a tie at 14. The two teams traded points and saw a tied match on several occasions. Slowly, though, UNCW pulled away and took the third game 30-26.
Hamlett earned the first point of the fourth match with a kill and teamed with freshman Kristina Stewart (Glendale, Ariz.) for a block, but UNC0Wilmington quickly advanced the score at the 4-3 mark and never relinquished the lead. The Falcons cleared the 20-point barrier off of an ace by Stewart, but the Falcons dropped the game 30-20, tying up the match at two and sending it into a decisive fifth set.
A kill by Akers opened the scoring in the fifth game and again the two squads traded scores. An out by UNCW gave Air Force the lead, but the Seahawks used a 6-2 retake the advantage. Two kills by Akers pulled the Falcons within one, but UNCW again embarked on a run. Air Force pulled within one at 13-12 and tied the game at 14, but UNC-Wilmington claimed the final two points en route to the 16-14 victory.
Hamlett led all scorers with 27 kills. She was one of three Falcons to tally double-digit kill totals, as Arrington notched 14 and Akers collected 13. Senior Carly Siefken (Beaverton, Ore.) posted a career-best 59 assists, while freshman Ellen Bina (Orion, Ill.), Gallegos and Hamlett registered double-digit dig marks, with 15, 14 and 10, respectively.
The Falcons continue this afternoon with a 3 p.m. matchup against South Carolina State at the Battle at the Beach Tournament.