Falcons Down Cal State Fullerton
Russ led the Falcons with career kills (11) and blocks (nine) totals, while recording his first college ace and hitting a .345 (11-2-26) clip. The freshman Falcon, whose blocking tally includes three solo saves – a mark just under the program’s one-game record in the 25-point era, helped the Air Force overtake the Titans by a margin of 13-7. Senior Bailey Keith and second Joi harvey each had four assisted blocks, while the second Caroline Reinkensmeyer, first-year student Ella Tschuor and second Savannah Neal all assisted on a pair of stops.
Harvey led the game with a career-matched .750 hitting performance, totaling nine kills on 12 swings (no errors) in just two sets of action. Reinkensmeyer (18) and senior Abigail Collins (16) combined for 34 of 45 Air Force assists, while the second Allie Griffith led all players to Aces (two) and Digs (14) to complete the Falcons’ stat leader roster.
Junior BrookeLyn Messenger recorded the opening point of the match and was quickly followed by the scores of Keith and junior Talea Cooper (3-2). After Fullerton took a 4-3 lead, strikes from Russ, Neal and senior Vittoria Juarez backed up a four-point run that saw the Falcons take a 7-4 lead. Russ (two) and Neal added more wins to help the Air Force extend their lead to five (12-7), while Russ and Keith teamed up for a block to keep that five-point gap to 17. -12. The Falcons received scores from Juarez (kill), Neal (kill) and Russ (ace) for the 20-15 lead, while another strike from Juarez stopped a 4-1 run from the Titans that brought in visitors less than two (21-19). Russ, four of eight on offense in the first set, took down the final kill to give the Air Force the 25-21 victory.
Fullerton came out strong in the second set, jumping to a 10-4 lead. The Air Force responded with wins from Tschuor, Keith and Cooper, while a Russ / Juarez block that followed several Griffith dive stops, brought the Air Force down to four (11-15). Russ (12-16) and Tschuor (13-17, 14-18) kept the Falcons within that margin, before the Air Force lost four straight points to reduce its deficit to one at the 18-19 mark. . Reinkensmeyer (kill), Russ (block) and Griffith (ace) contributed in this run, while Russ scored three more runs (one kill, two blocks with Neal) during another four-run stretch that equalized the set at 22. The Titans claimed the last three points to tie the game with a 25-22 victory.
It was all in the Air Force in the opening minutes of the third set, as scores from Juarez (two wins), Harvey (kill), Griffith (ace) and Keith (kill) helped the Falcons take a 10-point advantage. -1. Fullerton responded with six of the next seven points to move closer to four (11-7), but a kill and an ace from Juarez quickly sparked a 4-0 Air Force run to increase his lead to eight (15 -7). Russ, who teamed up with Tschuor for a block during the run, added another score, while Harvey and Keith each scored a kill and split a block to give the Air Force a 10-point lead at 21-11. Russ’s back-to-back solo saves highlighted another four-point run that ended with the Falcons winning the set by an impressive 25-13.
Harvey hit the first in the fourth set, but the Titans took the lead early 10-4. The runner-up added two more scores, while the Falcons forced Fullerton to make several attacking errors that took the Air Force to one (11-12). The Titans scored five of the next six points to go up 17-12, but a run that included a Neal kill and Russ / Tschuor block brought the Falcons down to two (15-17). The Titans regained a five-point margin (21-16) and the Air Force responded again, as two wins from Tschuor and Harvey blocked a Keith / Harvey block that helped the Air Force level the game. at 21. Fullerton scored the next two points, but Harvey was involved in the last four – two wins, block with Juarez, block with Keith – to help the Air Force take the 25-23 victory and take their first victory of the 2021 season.
The Falcons are staying at the Academy next week (September 17-18) to host Iowa and Incarnate Word in the Mile High Invitational. As the two visitors face off at Cadet East Gym at 11:00 a.m. MT on Friday, September 17, the Air Force opens its portion of the tournament against the Hawkeyes later that evening (6:00 p.m.).