Falcons hold off Nevada for 3-2 win
The Falcons beat the Wolfpack 18-11 — the Falcons’ five solo saves and 26 assists matched the season-high performance of 18.0 they first recorded earlier this season against CSUN. Second year McRuss recorded her first double-digit blocking performance, as she accounted for 11 saves, including three career-best solo comebacks. Junior Joi Harvey added seven blocks (two solo, five assisted), while rookie Savanah Johnson tallied five (all assisted), junior Aaryn Scire and senior Sarah Markwardt both assisted on three blocks and junior Caroline Reinkensmeyer added a pair.
Harvey also led the Falcons in hitting with 16 kills on .560 hits, while Reinkensmeyer recorded his seventh double-double of the year with team-leading totals in assists (38) and digs (19). , a career high). Reinkensmeyer was also one of four Falcons to earn a service ace that day, joining Markwardt, freshman Ashley Bible and senior BrookeLyn Messenger.
It was a back-and-forth affair that included 35 draws and 16 lead changes. The Air Force and Nevada were nearly identical in kills (54-53) and digs (66-65), while the Wolfpack beat the Falcons 7-4 and the Air Force held the advantage blocking and hitting (.137-.106) .
Nevada took an early 4-1 lead, but a pair of Messenger wins and a pair of Johnson scores (kill, block with Russ) helped the Air Force close the gap and take a lead of 5-4. Another 4-1 run from the Wolfpack put the visitors back in the lead (9-8) and the teams traded the next points, with Russ and Markwardt counting for the decisive wins. With a kill and an ace, Markwardt helped the Air Force take a three-point lead (14-11), while three points from Messenger (two kills, service ace) helped push the Falcons lead at six (20-14). Nevada shot less than three, but kills from Reinkensmeyer, Harvey (two), and Johnson helped the Air Force to a 25-21 victory.
Reinkensmeyer opened the second set with an ace on serve, while back-to-back strikes from Messenger on a 4-1 run helped the Falcons take an early 5-3 lead. Nevada responded with its own 4-1 run, a streak interrupted only by a solo block from Harvey. The junior added a kill to tie the set at seven and spark an 8-3 run by the Falcons that ended at 14-10 and included a kill and a solo block from Russ. Nevada shot within one (15-14) after another quick run and eventually tied the set at 17 and reclaimed the lead at the next point. A Harvey kill tied the set at 18, while a Russ kill and block highlighted a four-point swing that gave the Air Force a 21-18 lead. Nevada pulled back again to tie the set at 24, but a Johnson/Harvey block secured the Falcons 26-24 victory.
Nevada collected six of the first seven points to start the third set, before the Air Force scored five of the next six to close in on two (6-8). Russ and Reinkensmeyer recorded kills and teamed up for a block to keep the Falcons within two (11-13), while three straight points from Harvey (assisted block with Johnson, kill, solo block) brought the Air Force less than one (15-16). The Wolfpack responded with the next five points and, despite decisive attacks from Harvey and Bible, held the contest with a 25-19 win.
A quick 3-1 Wolfpack start was quickly undone by a pair of runs from Harvey and Scires, as the former opened with a pair of kills and the latter added a strike and teamed up for a block with Russ (5-4). After a five-point tie, the teams traded the next 10 points, with Harvey accounting for three of the Falcons’ five scores that ended in a tie of 10. Nevada collected consecutive points to take a two-point lead and eventually pushed his advantage to five (17-12). Russ stopped the run with a kill and, although Markwardt and Harvey each scored multiple scores to tie the score at 23 and Bible added a strike to put the Air Force on match point (24-23), the Wolfpack scored the bottom three to claim the 26-24 victory.
Nevada took a 6-2 lead in the deciding set, but Harvey (two kills) and Russ (solo block) scored to help the Air Force tie the set at seven. The Wolfpack scored five of the next six to take another four-point advantage (12-8), but the Falcons responded again. Russ landed a solo kill and block, while a successful head coach challenge keith barnet put the Falcons ahead 13-12 – their first lead of the set. The Wolfpack tied the score in the next game, but Bible pulled off back-to-back eliminations to give the Air Force the set (15-13) and the match (3-2).
The Air Force ends its longest homestand of the conference season on Tuesday (Nov. 1), when it hosts New Mexico in a quick rematch at Cadet East Gym at 6:00 p.m. (MT).