Freshman Annalyse Schmitt made sure Falcons first-year coach Matt McShane’s debut was a success.
Schmitt’s kill gave Air Force a 25-14, 22-25, 29-31, 25-19, 15-9 victory over Long Island University on Friday night in the season opener at the Falcon Invitational.
“I don’t think we could’ve done any better,” said Schmitt after her first collegiate match.
Schmitt finished with 13 kills, including the game-clincher. When she saw the set come her way, one thing ran through her mind.
“I want to kill this, real bad,” Schmitt said.
Senior Caroline Kurtz led the team with 20 kills, and senior middle blocker Nichole Stilwell finished with 14 kills and one error. Her block was the penultimate point for the Falcons.
Stilwell is one of seven seniors that have dealt with the coaching change and loved it.
“It’s been great, it’s been a good change,” said Stilwell, a Woodland Park High School alum. “It sets the tone for the entire season.”
The Falcons opened the season in strong fashion with a 25-14 victory.
But Colorado Springs School graduate Breanna Cullity and outside hitter Hannah Gibeau, a Ralston Valley grad, rallied the Blackbirds (0-1) in the second and third games. It was a block by Cullity that gave the Blackbirds the third game.
“Every point of the entire match I felt that we could win,” McShane said. “The thing we had to do was convince the players they could make the plays.”
Stilwell working off the opposite side kept finding kills through the LIU defense.
“We knew she was going to light it up a little bit,” McShane said. “Hey, I’m 1-0 as a head coach.”
All four teams in the Falcon Invitational boasted players from Colorado. Air Force had the most with six players, including Emily Frick, a Doherty grad and Stilwell. LIU had five Coloradans on its roster. ... Blackbirds coach Kyle Robinson was an assistant at Air Force from 2006-07.