USAF ACADEMY, Colo. – The Air Force volleyball team claimed its first 3-0 sweep of the season this afternoon (Sept. 21), as it downed UC Riverside in straight 25-17, 25-19, 25-22 sets at the Academy’s Cadet East Gym. The Falcons, whose previous wins came during five-set matches, improved to 1-1 at home and 3-9 overall.
Sophomore Akokwe Clement led the Falcons with 12 kills, while senior Cami Richan added 10. With a .444 hitting average, Richan was one of five Falcons to hit over .400 in the match, as the squad accounted for a season-high .375 average. Juniors Ayesha Hein hit a team-best .455 (7k-2e-11a), while Hillary Keltner (3-1-5, .400), freshman Collette Foster (3-0-5, .600) and sophomore Taylor Parker (2-0-3, .667) also had strong attacking performances.
Keltner recorded 39 of the team’s assists, while Hein paced the team with four total blocks, including a solo stop in the first set. Junior Emma Dridge, who collected a match-best 11 digs, was one of three Falcons to record a service ace, joining Hein and sophomore Rebecca Bates.
Hein and Richan got the match started with a block, while kills from Richan and Clement helped Air Force jump out to a quick 6-2 lead. After pulling within two at the 7-5 mark, UC Riverside remained close to the Falcons throughout the middle portion of the set. The Highlanders pulled within one at 15-14, but Hein put down a kill that started a 10-3 run by Air Force to cement the game. During the Falcons’ late-game run, Hein put down a pair of kills and recorded a block, while Richan and Clement combined for three straight points off of kills. A pair of errors by UCR secured the 25-17 victory for Air Force.
The Highlanders struck first in the second set, before a kill by Hein evened the score at seven and back-to-back Hein/Richan blocks gave Air Force the lead. Richan and Clement put down kills, as the Falcons extended their lead to six (16-10). Parker recorded a kill on the first play following her sub-in to keep the Falcons’ lead at six (18-12). UC Riverside scored the next three points to cut its deficit to 18-15, but a pair of kills from Foster, who was making her East Gym debut, reinstated the Falcons’ advantage. Foster added one more kills, as Air Force took the set 25-19.
Hein, Richan, Clement, sophomore Raquel Rosas and classmate Maggie Sherrill combined for six of the Falcons’ first seven points, as Air Force took a 7-4 lead to open the third set. UC Riverside used a run of its own to tie the set at nine, before taking the lead at the 11-10 mark. Richan, Rosas, Keltner and Sherrill added kills, but the Highlanders continued to lead. A kill from Hein tied the set at 17, while a kill by Keltner at the 22-21 mark gave Air Force the lead. Richan closed out the set with back-to-back kills, as the Falcons won the set 25-22 for their first 3-0 win of the year.