Air Force Falters at Utah

    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Despite a late-game rally in the third, the Air Force volleyball team dropped a four-game set to Utah on Saturday, Oct. 15, in Salt Lake City. The Falcons dropped the first two sets 30-14 and 30-16. They rebounded to earn the victory in the third game with a 30-27 tally, but Utah claimed the fourth set 30-21 to earn the 3-1 win.

    Sophomore Brooke Akers (Desert Hot Springs, Calif.) put the first point on the board for Air Force, laying down a kill to match the Utes at one. Freshman Kristina Stewart (Glendale, Ariz.) added a kill to keep the Falcons within one. Utah embarked on a 10-1 run to cement its lead, but Air Force refused to go down quietly. Following the run, seniors Kristin Hamlett (Escondido, Calif.) and Rebecca Gallegos (Las Vegas, N.M.) each got in on the scoring action, as did classmate Carly Siefken (Beaverton, Ore.) to break the 10-point plateau for the Falcons.

    The second game opened with four combined errors, but an Akers kill nudged the Falcons ahead, 3-2. Akers laid down another kill, but Utah once again retook the lead. Following an Air Force timeout, Hamlett added a kill and assisted on a block with Akers to bring the Falcons within four. Gallegos' kill at the 15-11 mark kept the Falcons within four, but Utah used an 8-1 run to reclaim its hold on the set. Briana Thomas (Grass Valley, Calif.) claimed a kill, but Utah used two straight aces to close out the 30-16 game.

    Utah opened the third game with five straight points, but a kill by Stewart halted the streak. Kim Kallabis (Camino, Calif.) recorded a service ace and the Falcons were quickly back within two at 7-5. Utah again pulled ahead and Air Force again caught up. Following a kill from Hamlett and an ace from Gallegos, the Falcons matched the score at 11. A commanding block from Akers and Hamlett gave the Falcons their first lead of the set and three more points -- including an ace from Rebecca Gerton (San Leandro, Calif.) -- pulled Air Force's advantage out to 18-13. Jasamine Pettie (Baton Rouge, La.) added a kill, but the Utes climbed back and tied the set at 22. Hamlett added another pair of kills to regain the Air Force lead and a block by Stewart adjusted the Falcons' lead to three (26-23). Utah once again came back to even the score at 26, but Akers added a kill as the Falcons prevailed 30-27 in the third.

    Air Force and Utah traded the opening points of the fourth game -- Air Force receiving its kills by Hamlett and Stewart. Utah went ahead, but Air Force used a block from Thomas and Pettie to get back to within one at the 8-7 mark. Thomas teamed up with Stewart for a block and a tie in the game. The two teams traded points once more, until Utah took nine straight points, en route to the 30-21 win.

    Akers led all scorers with 12 kills, while Stewart (9), Hamlett (8) and Gallegos (7) were all near the 10-kill plateau. Akers' hitting percentage (.310) was also the Falcons' best, as she tallied those 12 kills on 29 attempts with just three errors. Siefken had a team-best 25 assists, while Gallegos led the way with 12 of the team's 46 digs.

    After two straight weeks on the road, Air Force returns to the Academy next week for three matches. The Falcons will host local rival Denver on Wednesday, Oct. 19, before returning to Mountain West Conference action on Friday-Saturday (Oct. 21-22) to face Colorado State and Wyoming. The first serve for all three matches is scheduled for 7 p.m., in the Cadet East Gymnasium.


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