Air Force Drops Four-Game Match to New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Air Force volleyball team suffered a four-game loss at New Mexico on Wednesday (Oct. 5) in Albuquerque, N.M. In their first road contest since beginning Mountain West Conference action, the Falcons succumbed 27-30, 16-30, 31-29, 19-30 to the Lobos.
New Mexico took the first point, but freshman Jasamine Pettie (Baton Rouge, La.) quickly tied the score with a kill. The Lobos climbed out to a 9-3 lead, but the Falcons fought back, pulling within two off of a pair of kills from senior Kristin Hamlett (Escondido, Calif.). New Mexico once again went out on a run, but Air Force used a pair of blocks from sophomore Brooke Akers (Desert Hot Springs, Calif.) and freshman Kristina Stewart (Glendale, Ariz.) to bring things close again. Another Lobos run put the Falcons down 25-19, but Rebecca Gallegos (Las Vegas, N.M.) guided the Falcons back once more to bring them within one (26-25). A kill from Carly Siefken (Beaverton, Ore.) kept them within one at 27-26, but the Lobos took the game, 30-27.
Air Force found itself in the early 2-0 hole, but Akers put down a pair of kills to keep them within one at 4-3. New Mexico used a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach for the Falcons. An error by the Lobos allowed the Falcons to surpass the 10-point plateau at the 21-10 mark, but UNM went on to take the game 30-16.
The third game was a back and forth battle, with five lead changes and 10 ties. New Mexico took the early 4-1 lead, but Akers put down another pair of kills as the Falcons tied the score at four. An out ball gave the Falcons their first lead of the match. Aces by Stewart and sophomore Rebecca Gerton (San Leandro, Calif.) pulled the Falcons out to an 8-5 advantage, but the Lobos crawled back to tie the score at 10. The scoring went back and forth as the teams traded point for point until New Mexico took the 16-14 lead. An ace by Siefken brought Air Force back within one (19-18), but UNM embarked on a 7-0 run before Gallegos stopped the streak with a kill at the 26-19 mark. Although Air Force trailed, the Falcons never gave up, as a pair of aces by Kim Kallabis (Camino, Calif.) and blocks by Akers kept the squad within striking distance. Down 29-27, Air Force held the Lobos at match-point while rallying off four straight points -- three of which came off of aces from Stewart -- to take the 31-29 set.
Akers opened the scoring in the fourth set, but New Mexico used several long serving streaks to tame the Falcons. Gallegos tied the set at 10, but a 11-1 run secured the 30-19 win for New Mexico. Akers led all scorers with 15 kills, while Gallegos added 14. Connecting on 15-of-37 and committing just four errors, Akers also posted the team's best hitting percentage (.297). Siefken added 37 assists, while Stewart lit up the board with six service aces. Stewart's ace total was just one shy of the Division I single-match record set in 2003 by Delavane Diaz, while, as a team, Air Force tallied 11 total aces -- just two shy of that Division I mark.
The Falcons continue action on Friday (Oct. 7), when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to face conference newcomer, TCU, at 7 p.m.