Volleyball's Win Streak Snapped at Air Force
Nov. 5, 2017
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. – The San Diego State volleyball team had its season-long five-match winning streak snapped in a grueling five-set defeat at Air Force (26-24, 19-25, 25-27, 25-20, 10-15) Sunday at Cadet East Gym.
Despite launching more kills (60-58) and maintaining a sizable advantage in digs (81-68), the Aztecs were out-hit (.183 to .103) and out-blocked (25.0 to 11.5), falling to 14-13 on the season and 8-6 in conference play.
SDSU had four players post double-digit kill totals, including Hannah Turnlund (4 blocks), who blasted a career-high 16 put-aways, while Deja Harris launched 12 non-returnables of her own to go with eight blocks (2 solo), and a personal-best nine digs. In addition, Baylee Little (.375) contributed 11 kills and three blocks, while Ashlynn Dunbar recorded her fourth double-double of the year with 10 kills and 15 digs.
The Aztecs also received another solid performance along the back row from Devyn Pritchard, who collected a match-high 27 digs, while Alexis Cage just missed out on a double-double after logging nine kills and 12 digs. Elsewhere, Gabi Peoples (31 assists) and Indigo Thompson (22 assists) split time at the setter position.
On the flip side, Abigail Miksch, Piper Heineck and Denise Ssozi wreaked the most havoc for the Falcons (12-16, 5-9 MW), combining for 43 of the team’s 58 kills. Miksch led all players with 17 kills and hit .358, while Heineck (.458) finished with 15 put-aways and amassed 14 blocks (1 solo). Ssozi added 11 kills and six blocks, while Kathleen Medill (9 blocks) and Lauren Heldt (7 blocks) displayed their defensive prowess as well.
SDSU built a series of four-point leads in the opening set, including an 11-7 spread after a Dunbar kill, However, Air Force remained within striking distance, eventually vaulting in front 21-20 following a pair of Aztec attack errors. The two sides battled through three ties and two lead changes over the next six serves before the Falcons inched in front 24-23 on a Miksch serve ace. However, Air Force quickly imploded at this juncture with a wayward serve and two consecutive hitting errors, which allowed SDSU to escape with the set.
Unfortunately, the Aztecs were unable to capitalize on their good fortune in the second stanza, as the Falcons fashioned a 5-0 run to take the lead for good at 13-9. SDSU twice narrowed the gap to two, including a 19-17 margin following a Little kill. However, the Falcons answered with three straight points to spark a 6-2 finishing run. Air Force came up with two combined blocks down the stretch, while Ssozi knocked down two kills to help level the match.
The Aztecs found themselves trailing throughout much of the third frame, including a 23-20 deficit following a kill by the Falcons’ Medill. SDSU staved off two set points momentarily before taking a brief 25-24 lead thanks to a Cage kill sandwiched between a pair of errant Air Force attacks. However, the Aztecs could not tally the clincher, as the Falcons came up with two more combined blocks before benefiting from a visitor attack error on the final point.
Unfazed, SDSU flashed its resolve in the fourth set, fashioning a timely 8-1 spurt to break a 12-12 deadlock. Harris combined with Thompson on a block to punctuate the run, giving the Scarlet and Black an insurmountable 20-13 advantage. The Aztecs logged their best hitting percentage of the afternoon during the frame (.281), knocking down 16 kills, including six by Turnlund and another five by Harris.
SDSU’s momentum quickly evaporated in the fifth set, however, as the visitors totaled just six kills while committing eight attack errors on 25 attempts (-.080). Air Force seized control with a 6-0 run after the Aztecs scored the first three points in the frame. Heineck joined forces with Heldt and Ssozi on a pair of blocks during that stretch, while Medill registered a kill.
The Aztecs crept within two at 12-10 following a Dunbar kill and a Falcon hitting error, but could draw no closer. Miksch and Ssozi closed out the match with a put-away each sandwiched around a combined block by Medill and Heldt.
San Diego State returns to the court for a pair of home matches this week when it plays host to UNLV on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. PT, followed by a clash with New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.