Category: Volleyball

May 4, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

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Tracen Knopp signs his national letter of intent for Nordic skiing at UAA. In his senior year, Knopp inished fifth in the final Besh Cup standings and was sixth in ASAA Skimeister standings. Photo credit: UAA Athletics

Volleyball 2017-18

With the loss of all-stars Morgan Hooe and Erin Braun, UAA volleyball head coach Chris Green made up the difference with the addition of five new players, two of which have been already practicing with the Seawolves this spring.

The previous two signees for the team included Casey Davenport and Jalisa Ingram. Davenport will be a freshman coming from Auburn, WA and Ingram also a true freshman coming from Flagstaff, AZ.

The first addition is a local from Anchorage who graduated from Dimond High School. Anjoilyn Vreeland was a four year letter awardee on Dimond’s volleyball team, along with current UAA Seawolf and former Dimond Lynx player Leah Swiss. In high school, Vreeland was able to help her team to all four 4-A State Title matches in her career, as well as the championships in 2012 and 2015.

After graduating from Dimond and before coming to play at UAA, Vreeland spent a year in Pendleton, Oregon. She played at Blue Mountain Community College where she average 3.08 digs per set.

Vreeland is currently joined by another newcomer who has already been practicing with the Seawolves. Tara Melton also started her collegiate volleyball career away from UAA before transferring. In Arizona at Glendale Community College, Melton spent two years playing for the team as a middle blocker and right-side hitter.

Green is exceptionally optimistic about the future of the team with Melton. She was able to already play at a competitive level and show her future potential.

The 6-foot-1-inch Melton was also named to the 2016 National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association First Team All-American. She boasted 3.05 kills per set and 0.78 blocks per set in 2016, a switch from her averages in 2015 at 2.03 and 0.83, respectively.

With those, Melton was ranked third nationally in attack percentages, which helped her team to a national third-place in 2015 as well at a 54-8 record during her career there.

“[She] played at the highest level in junior college and proved she can be an elite offensive performer,” Green said.

The final addition to the team is a true freshman from thousands of miles away. Vera Pluharova is traveling to UAA all the way from Nechanice, Czech Republic.

Pluharova was familiar with the Seawolves long before she signed to the team. Due to being a member of the TJ Slavia Hradec Kralove club team, she was able to play against the Seawolves during their 2015 European summer tour and get a glimpse of what a future at UAA looked like.

In addition, it gave Green an insight into her playing ability.

“[She] has been very impressive in the back row this spring and comes from elite high school and club programs, so we are confident she will add great depth,” Green said.

With the official announcements of these five new volleyball players, they are the first additions to the UAA athletic community, with skiing coming second after the official signing of two skiers.

Skiing 2017-18

The alpine ski team lost all four of the total graduating seniors, despite that, head Nordic coach Andrew Kastning was the first to announce his additions on the Nordic side.

Kastning was grateful for the new additions; both being current Alaskan residents. One from Colony High School and the other from West Valley High, they both have excelled in the sport they just signed the national letter of intent for.

“Both [recruits] represent the very best of their respective ski clubs and it is always a big recruiting goal to have the best Alaskans join our team,” Kastning said.

Tracen Knopp is one of the two, and has competed in numerous ski races that ranked him as one of the best, as well as competing in cross country running in the fall.

During his senior year, Knopp took 27th at Junior Nationals in the 15K classic, as well as ranking sixth at the ASAA Skimeister standings. In addition, he placed fifth in the final Besh Cup standings.

To add to the female Nordic team, Jenna DiFolco signed her national letter of intent. As far as Besh Cup standings, DiFolco came out ranked No. 1 for women under 18.

In the ASAA Skimeister standings, she placed third, and at Junior Nationals she competed in two events, placing in the top 25 for both.

Both have shown obvious potential and ability to transition into a collegiate career of skiing, and according to Kastning, they will have years to continue to improve and grow.

As far as other sports, incoming recruits will be announced throughout the next several months. National letters of intent are generally signed during April, but coaches and teams can accumulate other athletes and walk-ons into late summer months.

April 12, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

Lauren Cuddihy is a member of the UAA Seawolves Track and Field team.

With the loss of numerous prominent athletes from every team, the official National Collegiate Athletic Association signing period isn’t until mid to late April, depending on the sport, but coaches have been recruiting for quite a while and many already have very promising prospective athletes.

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UAA guard Kiki Robertson takes a shot over Point Loma Guard Amy Ogren during the first round of the NCAA Division II Western Regional Championships on March 13, 2015 at the Alaska Airlines Center. Photo credit: Adam Eberhardt

Volleyball:

Volleyball will be the first season to kick off the 2017-18 school year in August, two very prominent athletes used their remaining eligibility and won’t be returning. Morgan Hooe, the standout setter and team captain finished off her senior season.

Hooe was a very significant contributor to team for the past four years, racking up numerous awards and All-Americans, she will be followed by freshman Madison Fisher to take the place of setter on the team.

Erin Braun is the second loss the team will suffer, who had been a duo with Hooe for the past four years. Braun was a middle blocker for the team, successfully ending her career with numerous awards such as First Team All-GNAC, West Regional Championships All-Tournament and maintaining GNAC All-Academic for her entire collegiate career.

Head coach Chris Green confirmed that they had prospective athletes signing during the signing period in mid-April, but as of now no comment is allowed to be made until they sign.

Women’s Basketball:

Women’s basketball is another fortunate team, similar to volleyball, the team only loses three players, however, they happen to be three of the most successful.

The first to go is Alysha Devine, the Wasilla local and 6’0” forward has been a key component to the team for the past four years — even playing in all but one game her freshman season. The GNAC All-Academic and conference honorable mention leaves the team as being the fifth-leading scorer.

In addition, forward Autummn Williams and guard Kiki Robertson both depart their collegiate basketball career for UAA.

While this was only Williams first season and only season at UAA, Roberston has played and been a significant player for the past four years. Robertson also ended her career with 15 different awards and notable accomplishments during her career.

Again, head Coach Ryan McCarthy noted that although they have prospective athletes, due to NCAA regulations no specific information can be released.

“At this point we are unable to comment on anyone we have signed until the NCAA signing period for women’s basketball which is in mid-April. Once we do get everyone signed, which should be around May, we can comment publicly but due to NCAA rules, at this point in time we are unable to do so,” McCarthy said.

Men’s Basketball:

Of all the sports at UAA, men’s basketball is taking the second biggest hit, losing seven of their 16 current players. Included in these loses are guards Suki Wiggs, Diante Mitchell and Spencer Svejcar.

Wiggs produced top performances for UAA and earned numerous awards including First Team All-West region and USBWA National player of the week. He ended his career with an impressive 24.4 points per game average, good for fifth in all of NCAA Div. II.

Mitchell also ended the season with an honorable mention All-GNAC status as well as being All-Academic in the conference.

In addition, the team is losing forwards Travis Parrish, Corey Hammell, Tayler Thompson and Connor Devine.

Devine just started and finished his only season at UAA, after transferring from South Dakota State, but he proved to be a vital asset to the team. He was the fourth leading scorer, third leading rebounder and top shot blocker for the Seawolves.

Hockey:

Hockey also takes a very minimal loss, only four players of their current 27-player roster.

Defensemen and assistant captain Chase Van Allen finished off his fourth year of eligibility with the Seawolves, competing in the majority of games all four years. Van Allen played in all 34 games of his junior season, 31 of his sophomore season and 30 of his freshman season.

In addition, the team loses forward Dylan Hubbs, forward Brad Duwe and goalie Rasmus Reijola.

Hubbs and Duwe, similar to Van Allen, played in the majority of the games all four seasons.

Skiing:

The skiing teams, split into Nordic and alpine, look at a loss of only four players, but all of them belonging to the alpine side.

On the men’s side, Curtis McKillop and Hughston Norton depart after the 2017 season. McKillop made several NCAA Championship appearances in his career and was also named to the All-Academic ski team every year. Norton also managed to make NCAA championship appearances every year of his career.

On the women’s side, Katherine Lamoureux and Miranda Sheely both concluded their final collegiate season.

Gymnastics:

Although the gymnastics team is losing only three athletes, their roster is only topped off at 14 athletes total.

The first to depart is Nicole Larkin, who has made appearances in nearly every single meet since her freshman year and helping to contribute to several school records in team totals. Larkin made a significant contribution to the team, being co-captain for three years straight as well as being named to MPSF All-Academic team every year.

In addition, Brice Mizell and Kallie Randolph will not be returning after expiring their four-year eligibility. Both have also contributed to school records in overall team scores. Randolph produced some of the best floor scores in her time at UAA and earned several All-MPSF honors.

Head coach Paul Stoklos also confirmed that no athletes have officially signed until late April, but their team is expected to increase in size.

“It is out hope to sign three athletes and to add four walk-ons to bring our team size closer to 18 athletes,” Stoklos said.

Cross Country/Track and Field:

The last season of the year and the final team to compete contains members of the cross country and track and field team, who are still in competition until late May. Being one of the largest teams in the UAA program, it is also the team that loses the largest amount of athletes, at 14 after the commencement of their outdoor season.

On the men’s sprint team, only one athlete is being lost. Adam Commandeur, a prominent member of the men’s 4×400 sprint team and a successful 400m runner. For the men’s distance and cross country team, the Seawolves will lose six runners, including Joe Day (800m), Michael Mendenhall (mile, 3k, 5k), Philip Messina (mile, 3k, 5k), Jesse Miller (800, 5k), Michel Ramirez (5k, 10k) and Victor Samoei (3k, 5k, 10k).

In addition, the men’s team is losing a prominent jumper, Tevin Gladden. He holds the UAA record in high jump and holds several top jumps in the UAA record book for long jump and triple jump.

On the women’s sprint side, very prominent loses will be seen. Karolin Anders (heptathlon), Jamie Ashcroft (100m, 200m), Hayley Bezanson (200m, 400m), Alexia Blalock (jumps/hurdles) and Mary-Kathleen Cross (100m, 200m, 400m) will not be returning.

Three of them, Ashcroft, Cross and Bezanson, are a part of the 4x400m UAA record team. In addition, Ashcroft holds the UAA indoor and outdoor record in both the 100m and 200m and is a part of the 4x100m outdoor UAA record. Anders is currently finishing off her final outdoor season; she holds the UAA record in the indoor high, triple and long jump, as well as shot put and the pentathlon.

Dakayla Walters is another member of the track team not set to return. Walters competes in the shot put and discus, making appearances at numerous GNAC Championships.

With the departure of many talented athletes, teams will be adding many new faces to Seawolf athletics, finalized recruits added to teams will be announced by the end of April.

April 3, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

As the 2016-17 school year nears the end, it also marks the end of many athletes’ last ever college season with a sport that they have dedicated countless hours to. It is a bittersweet end for many; after four years at a collegiate level of competition, it’s a large change to not compete in that way anymore. Many of these UAA athletes are now graduating with a degree to start their future in, but some still have to stay and finish their degrees with no more eligibility left.

To get a glimpse into the lives of these soon-to-graduate college athletes, alpine skier Miranda Sheely, men’s basketball guard Spencer Svejcar and volleyball’s setter Morgan Hooe shared their experiences.

Women’s Skiing – Miranda Sheely

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Miranda Sheely skiing slalom at the NCAA West Regionals. Although out of eligibility years, Sheely plans to stay in Alaska to finish her degree. Photo credit: Sam Wasson/UAA Athletics

Originally from Frisco, Colorado, Miranda Sheely has always been in a skiing location, which is shown by the fact that she’s been skiing a large majority of her life. She originally learned to ski when she was only two years old and began competing in the sport at the young age of five.

Skiing has always been one of the most important aspects of Sheely’s life and coming to UAA to compete and earn her degree only added to the significance. Now that she finished her last year of eligibility, Sheely described how devastating it is knowing it’s all over.

“The worst [thing about running out of eligibility] would be leaving my team. I grew so close to each and every one of them. They are my family, and I will really miss suffering through fall training with them. All the cold and rainy days but also enjoying the sunny days and traveling together,” Sheely said.

Although it’s all over and she’s moving into a new chapter in her life, Sheely will always look back fondly on all the people she was able to meet from all over the world that skiing at UAA introduced to her.

However, if there was something Sheely wished she could tell herself four years ago it would be to cherish every day.

“I wish I would have known how fast it would fly by, and to try my hardest every day and always take that extra run because all four years flew by,” Sheely said.

As for now, Sheely is one of many athletes that run out of eligibility but still have to finish their degree. She plans to stay in Alaska for the foreseeable future to finish her degree and find a job in therapeutic recreation, and, of course, continue skiing for fun.

Men’s Basketball – Spencer Svejcar

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Spencer Svejcar at an away game at Northwest Nazarene University. Svejcar finished the 2016-17 season with a .458 3-point average and a 15.1 points per game average. Photo credit: NNU Athletics

Spencer Svejcar, another Colorado local, came to UAA to play as a guard on the men’s basketball team. In addition, Svejcar has been pursing his degree in physical education. Being a full-time student is already a large responsibility, but adding a sport on top it was something Svejcar wasn’t initially prepared for.

“I wish I would have known how hard you have to work every single day and had a better understanding of how important it is to manage your time properly so you can get athletics and schoolwork done every day when I came into it years ago. I had to get to a whole new level of work ethic once I realized what it actually takes to play college sports,” Svejcar said.

However, the hard work and time commitment never turned Svejcar away from basketball. This is the sport he had grown up with, playing since he was five and beginning to compete for YMCA ball in kindergarten.

For Svejcar, all the hard work and dedication was worth it in the end.

“The best thing was being able to travel around the country to places I had never been and experience things I had never experienced. Also, being able to try and work as hard as possible for four years to perfect a certain craft and put myself into the position I am today was really rewarding,” Svejcar said.

But even behind the glamorous travel and the lifelong friends, there was intense hours of long training. Svejcar and his teammates were only in competition from November until March of every year, which meant the rest of the time was spent in the gym and the weight room putting in work. Svejcar recalled that the worst part of college athletics was the off-season and pre-season training.

Unlike Sheely, Svejcar doesn’t want to give up his sport just yet. Although he has more credits to take to finish his degree, Svejcar plans to continue training and then pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.

When basketball is all over and done competitively in his life, Svejcar wants to finish his degree and get a job in the lower 48.

Volleyball – Morgan Hooe

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Morgan Hooe waits for the whistle at a UAA home game. Hooe, leader in assists in the 2016 season, hopes to continue to play professional volleyball in Europe. Photo credit: Adam Phillips

Similar to Svejcar, Morgan Hooe just finished up her eligibility and instead of leaving competitive volleyball behind indefinitely, she wants to head to Europe to pursue professional volleyball.

However, those plans for Europe are on a temporary wait list in Hooe’s life while she focuses on her last stretch of school. She has until spring of 2018 to graduate with her degree in physical education.

While she continues taking classes to finish up, Hooe will continue training and staying in shape to be prepared for a professional level of volleyball. Although the collegiate level is a step down from that, Hooe got an introduction to a high level of competition and other perks along the way.

“The best part about competing [at UAA] would definitely be how fast and competitive the level of play is and the opportunity it gives you to make new friends and travel all around the United States and the world,” Hooe said.

However, as many other student-athletes would agree, Hooe recalled that she missed out on many hours of sleep and a lack of a social life to be able to focus on her athletics and academics. Hooe and her team generally had two practices a day as well as five required sessions in the weight room a week, which she maintained for four years straight. Regardless, Hooe learned many valuable things from being a student-athlete.

“I wish I would have known before I got here that that you will constantly improve over your four years and that you won’t be the best overnight. You have to work on yourself and your game each and every day if you want to be the best,” Hooe said.

November 21, 2016 Lauren Cuddihy

Closing in on the end of their outrageously successfully season, the Seawolves played two different games in Washington on Thursday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 19. These games secured the Great Northwest Athletic title that the Seawolves attained, but also elevated them two spots in the Division II standings to No. 9, as well as continuing to hold their position as No. 1 in the NCAA West Regional rankings.

Before coming into this weekend, UAA knew that they wanted to win the title outright and not just share it, “there’s definitely pressure but we’ve been working hard, we work day in and day out but we trust what our coaches have taught us and we will work off that,” sophomore outside hitter Leah Swiss said.

Thursday, Nov. 17 vs. Seattle Pacific University

Although the Seawolves came through with a 3-0 overall win, it wasn’t a necessarily easy game. UAA started the game with a quick lead in set one, contributing early on was senior setter Morgan Hooe with quick assists to initiate a strong offense. Furnishing a strong start to the game senior middle blocker Erin Braun stepped in on Hooe’s assists to help rack in the points. Finalizing their first win of the night, the Seawolves ended things up at 25-21.

To the Seawolves disadvantage, SPU slowly caught up while UAA was almost to set point. In the angst of the set closing in, the Seawolves struggled to keep their offense up which resulted in several errors. In a further disadvantage, SPU gained their two errors to tie the game up at 22-22.

After more toggling between the lead, Swiss stepped up to the net for a kill that brought the Seawolves up to set point. To final off their win, duo of Hooe and Braun got in a block that won the set at 28-26. Holding onto their senior and leader status was recognizable by head coach Chris Green

“Morgan and Erin were both spectacular tonight,” Green said.

In attempt to get in the winning set of the night, UAA and SPU stepped back onto the court for set three. With a minor scare half way through the set, the Seawolves were put temporarily behind. After a quick turnaround, UAA struck up a six point streak until a final kill from freshman Vanessa Hayes won the set and the game.

Final of 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-21) won the game for the Seawolves. With this win, the Seawolves official extended a new program record with a total of 28 wins, passing last years 27. In addition, Braun passed 400 block assists and became the first person in the program to ever do so.

Saturday, Nov. 19 vs. Saint Martin’s

Following seven straight wins, the Seawolves remained in Washington to take on rival Saint Martin’s. UAA continues with their 19-1 conference record and with Saint Martin’s 2-18 record, this match was expected to be quick, which was seen in set one.

With the final score resulting in a complete blowout for the Seawolves, their lead excelled early and gave Saint Martin’s and initial eight-point deficit. With Hooe and middle blocker Diana Fa’amausili pairing up early, the duo quickly paired off assists with kills one after another until Saint Martin’s was left far behind.

Closing in on the end of the set, Taylor Noga stepped up to the line to get four successful serves in before Chrisalyn Johnson put in a kill for the set-winning point at 25-12.

With a change of pace, Saint Martin’s put UAA up to the test for the second set. Halfway through the set and Saint Martin’s even surpassed the Seawolves due to their offensive errors putting them in a five-point deficit. Slowly pulling back up, the scores tied at 21-21.

Several rallies continued until the usual 25 point win was surpassed and the game was tied up until 27-27. A kill by Fa’amausili gave the Seawolves the win they needed at 29-27.

Looking to final off the night, UAA and Saint Martin’s stepped up to set three, that resulted in almost a complete replicate of set one. Kyla Militante-Amper stepping in early to start the lead off with four successful serves. Soon, the Seawolves put them into a 5 point deficit. A final four serves from Militante-Amper and a kill from Fa’amausili gave UAA the win at 25-16.

With several strong weekends under their belt, the Seawolves have a new goal approaching: NCAA West Regionals. Head Coach Green looks ahead and plans for that.

“We are working hard not to have a let down as the West Regional approaches. We have a lot of work to do, and hopefully the girls realize that,” Green said.

NCAA West Regional Championships will be held Dec. 1 – Dec. 3.

November 6, 2016 Lauren Cuddihy

To start the weekend off, the UAA women’s volleyball traveled down to the state of Oregon to compete against two different schools. With a new streak of 4 wins, the Seawolves hold steady in their No. 1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference seeding, as well as their No. 11 Division II rank. With the season soon coming to an end in approximately a month, they Seawolves are showing off their strength and teamwork with two back-to-back wins.

UAA last competed against Concordia and Western Oregon a month ago at the Alaska Airlines Center where UAA won both games 3-0, but to change things up for these games, the Seawolves were hosted as the ‘away’ team on Oregon court.

Although beaten by UAA, Concordia boasts a 8-6 conference record, holding the No. 6 seed, but only No. 25 in Division II. On the other hand, Western Oregon stands at No. 8 with only a 5-9 conference rank.

Friday, Nov. 4 – Concordia in Portland, OR

To kick off the back-to-back games, the Seawolves debuted their weekend in Portland taking on Concordia.

Cutting it close in the beginning of the game, the Seawolves allowed not only set one, but also set two to go into overtime before capping off the two point win rule. The Seawolves, including sophomore outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson, knew they would be in trouble in they didn’t do anything, “our game against Concordia, started out a little rough. We knew we had to eliminate our serving, hitting, and passing errors in order to win,” she said.

In set one, the Seawolves managed to get by with almost as many attack errors as they had kills, resulting in 10 and 13, respectively. Concordia was a decent amount behind until half way through the set, when they quickly caught up and even passed UAA’s lead temporarily.

Rounding up towards the end of the set, the power duo of setter Morgan Hooe and middle blocker Diana Fa’amausili stepped up to lead the Seawolves in for the win. With an assist from Hooe, Fa’amausili brought in a kill that allowed the Seawolves to get a win at 26-24.

The second set ran a bit more smoothly than the first. More kills, blocks, digs and less errors. Unfortunately, Concordia was on the same page and kicked their offense into high gear. With an immediate lead from CU, the Seawolves were already five points behind halfway through the set.

Slowly but surely, the Seawolves pulled ahead, with credit to middle blocker Erin Braun blocking the net left to right. CU barely reaching set point by the time UAA was right there. In an impressive comeback, the Seawolves pushed into overtime to let Hooe set Johnson the ball for the set-winning point at 29-27.

Heading into the third — and what could be the final set of the night — the Seawolves discovered early on that they were in for a challenge. Although UAA held the lead for the majority of the set, Concordia prospered to hand the Seawolves their first loss of the night. While UAA managed 14 kills with only 7 attack errors, CU beat them with a total of 16 kills and only 3 attack errors, prompting a score of 23-25.

In order to redeem themselves, the Seawolves pulled in an immediate lead, by nearly 8 points in a short amount of time. With help from Kyla Militante-Amper’s initial four serve streak, the Seawolves got back in the game.

Hooe and Johnson teamed up in the remaining of the set to pull the offense together. Several assists and kills later from the duo, UAA found themselves at set point. Militante-Amper stepped up the line to serve again, with a final service ace, the Seawolves won the set 25-17, and the game at 3-1.

Saturday, Nov. 5 – Western Oregon in Monmouth, OR

To finish up the weekend after their previous win, the Seawolves headed to Monmouth to compete against Western Oregon.

In a rather quick game, the Seawolves prospered in their second win for the weekend at 3-0. To continue their recently cut streak, UAA continued their new streak with this now fourth win in a row.

Although set one ended with WOU earning a higher average of attacks and kills that UAA, the Seawolves actually gained more points off of them due to their attack errors, letting set one end quickly at 25-21. The Seawolves realized they had to correct the weaknesses they suffered from the previous night.

“Our coach believes passing and serving wins games because offense will follow,” Johnson said.

It wasn’t until set two that the Seawolves experienced a turn around in their offensive line, although they started out slow with WOU topping their scores off every couple points, the Seawolves went out with a bang. Incorporated in this strong offensive turn around included a majority of them, 7 Seawolves being able to step up for a kill.

Stepping up to set three, UAA knew they could make it the last one for the night. Just like Johnson said, the team needed to be more consistent with their passing and serving, with that they were already on the right path for set three.

The Seawolves started strong and got a significant lead, but halfway through they slowed down, WOU caught up. In the closest set of the night, UAA found themselves at 25 points, with Western Oregon only one point behind.

With nerves on edge, it wasn’t known if WOU would overtake them and kill everything they earned in the first two sets, but that was quickly dismissed when UAA got their set and game-winning point on Western Oregon’s attack error, ending the set at 26-24.

After two back to back games, the Seawolves added two more wins to their streak. Winning against Concordia 3-1 (26-24, 29-27, 23-25, 25-17) and Western Oregon 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 26-24).

October 30, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

On a day that will be remembered for the waiver request of both men’s and women’s skiing and indoor track, UAA volleyball had to block out any empathy or distractions and focus on hosting Montana State-Billings (4-19, 2-11).

Assorted athletes gathered at the game with supportive signs for their classmates and fellow student-athletes.

The Seawolves (23-2, 13-1) gave everyone something to cheer about. This may have been UAA’s most complete game front-to-back, as they sailed to 25-16, 25-11, 25-12 sweep over the Yellowjackets.

Thanks to clean executing throughout all three sets, the 11th-ranked Seawolves finished with a season-high .376 hitting percentage compared to MSUB’s .053.

Sophomore Chrisalyn Johnson set the tone with her sixth straight double-double, piling up 13 kills with 11 digs while also chipping in two aces and three block assists. Diana Fa’amausili added eight kills, Leah Swiss punched in seven, and Morgan Hooe and Erin Braun had six each.

Braun won her 92nd game in green and gold, tied for the most in school history with Jen Szcerbinski.

UAA has had the upper-hand on Billings in their last 14 meetings, dating back to 2009.

The Seawolves look to take advantage of some much-needed rest. They have just concluded four home games in seven days and will recoup for eight days before heading to Oregon to take on Concordia (12-8, 8-4) and Western Oregon (8-12, 5-8).

October 17, 2016 Lauren Cuddihy

As the season rolls on and the UAA women’s volleyball continues to move up in the charts, they took on two more rivals: Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene. Two of the highest ranked teams in the conference behind UAA, the Seawolves knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

Volunteer coach Siobhan Johansen was still optimistic.

“CWU and NNU are both tough teams and as long as UAA comes into the game[s] focused on playing their best game, I think they’re going to do really well,” Johansen said.

After last week’s games, the Seawolves were able to pull up to be No. 8 in the entire division II volleyball standings. In addition, they had an impressive 17 game win streak that they increased to 18 following the previous match.

Central Washington became the first rival of the weekend for the Seawolves on Thursday, Oct. 13. Compared to UAA’s No. 1 rank in the conference, CWU isn’t far behind at No. 3 with a 6-2 streak.

Set one wasn’t a complete blowout for the Seawolves like it seems to have been in the past. Instead of starting off quick and pushing an immediate lead for the entire set, the Seawolves experienced a change in pace. CWU managed to hold on to the Seawolves’ energy and play at the same pace, which is almost expected since CWU is only two spots down from UAA in the rankings.

The beginning of the set proved to be a little bit of a struggle for the Seawolves, resulting in many errors, but none the less sophomore outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson helped keep the team together with repeated digs.

While rallying the ball back and fourth, senior setter Morgan Hooe kept up with the assists, accumulating a total of 11 in the set, to give Diana Fa’amausili and Leah Swiss the ball for many kills a piece.

Halfway through the set, the Seawolves were able to pull in a much larger lead, but only briefly. Fa’amausili got up to the net for another kill, as well as freshman Vanessa Hayes.

Coming in towards the end, Swiss and Erin Braun held the defense up with several blocks to prevents CWU from scoring. The set point was won with teamwork while Hooe set the ball to Swiss for a kill. The set ended in UAA’s favor, 25-19.

Set two kept everyone anxious and on their feet. The rallies lasted long and the scores stayed close. Half way through the set and the Seawolves still lacked a lead, but their score continued to increase and their energy stayed high.

The end of the set kept everyone the most anxious. At 24-23 CWU held the lead, and also the set point. UAA pulled in a point, then CWU. The score toggled back and forth, needing a two-point lead for a win.

The tension was definitely high as the teams battled out the last several minutes. With excellent offense and teamwork, Johnson and Hooe helped lead the team to the win, with help from Braun and Swiss. The final score for set two ended at an astonishing 31-29 for a second win of the night on the Seawolves’ side.

After the previous battle for a win in the second set, Hooe managed to accumulate a total of 22 assists in just the set, as well as Johnson with 10 kills and sophomore libero Kyla Miltante-Amper with 14 digs.

Set three again proved to be rough for the Seawolves. CMU showed their determination and kept their lead over UAA until finally at 20-20 it evened out.

The first half of the set lacked defense from the Seawolves, CMU kept getting in hit after hit and UAA wasn’t able to keep up. In addition, the Seawolves added their own offensive errors on top of it give Central Washington a strong lead.

It was in the last ten minutes that things once again got interesting. Just like set two, UAA and CMU toggled after the set winning point and rallied for extensive periods of time. This set left everyone even more anxious; if the Seawolves could pull through on this set, they could win the game.

Yet again, Hooe and Johnson stepped up together. But, not without help from Swiss, who pulled in eight kills and eight digs during the set, and Johnson with six kills. After an anxiously long wait, UAA again pulled out a third win at 31-29.

In an astonishing comparison, UAA accumulated at total of 63 kills, 60 assists and 82 digs during the entire game while their rivals CWU managed 30 kills, 27 assists and 56 digs.

Even though the close scores of the sets, UAA did manage to have some flaws, as noticed by volunteer coach Johansen.

We struggled a little with being consistent hitters and servers. But overall UAA fought hard and came back strong from big deficits in the second and third sets,” Johansen said.

After the win, the Seawolves now increased their winning streak to 18 games. With another chance to increase it even more, the Seawolves take on Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Oct. 15.

October 9, 2016 Lauren Cuddihy

Following a first win back on Alaska ground on Thursday, UAA lined up again in the Alaska Airlines Center two days later to play against Concordia University.

While the Seawolves continued to stay in the spotlight with their undefeated conference status and school record 16 game win steak, Concordia was making it by with a 4-3 record in the conference. Freshman Vanessa Hayes realized that a record doesn’t always mean everything but it also shouldn’t determine how your team should play.

“I’ve never seen them play but I hear that they’re a pretty good team this year. We just have to handle business on our side of the net,” Hayes said.

The Seawolves started off strong against their rivals. They debuted in set one by obtaining an immediate lead. Senior setter Morgan Hooe relinquished her power with a kill right away, assisted by senior Leah Swiss. Afterwards, with a lead almost double Concordia’s score, Diana Fa’amausili and Swiss took over the kills while Hooe stepped back as setter to assist them.

With a lot of positive energy on the Seawolves side of the court, they continued to increase their lead in set one. Swiss and Fa’amausili continued to rack up the kills, while sophomore libero Kyla Militante-Amper held everything together in the back diving down dig after dig.

For the Seawolves set winning point, Concordia lined up to serve. For an easy win, the serve went out of bounds, putting UAA at 25-15.

Jumping into set two, the Seawolves were put into an immediate lead due to a service error from Concordia, but their lead did drop from there.

Militante-Amper got up to serve and successfully pulled 4 points out of them until an attack error on the Seawolves’ side. Next, showing off their superb defense skills, UAA only let Concordia get one serve over the net until the ball was back in their possession.

Half way through the set, Fa’amausili and Hooe debuted several kills of their own, letting the Seawolves sit at a comfortable 7 point lead.

Nearing the end of set two, Swiss was up to serve. Impressively, not one or two, but all three of Swiss’ final serves resulted in a service ace, giving the Seawolves the final set winning points. Final score of set two being 25-14.

At halftime, both teams took a break to recover and strategize the third, and final, set of the game. During this time, the Seawolves recounted the fact that that they lost several strong seniors from the previous season and how important it is that they can’t dwell on that.

Instead of reminiscing about the team from last year the players needed to work together with each other and the new players to win the games they needed. Hooe being a senior and star player of the team knew this to be true and realized a common attitude that her teammates have taken.

“I’m not harping on you for your position, I’m just harping on you in order for you to be better and for this team to be better,” Hooe said at halftime.

After taking a well-needed rest, set three was jump started with serves from Hooe. Rallying back and forth, the Seawolves were able to get a couple points off Concordia’s errors.

With the scores staying close together, most of the points earned on either side of the court was due to errors by their rivals. Outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson stood out several times taking an offensive stance and getting some kills over the net. Eventually joined by Fa’amausili, the two made several more kills over the net to get a relatively safe lead.

Not for long though, before the errors on UAA’s side started to add up. Close to finishing off the set but Concordia continued to gain on them.

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Noga finally stepped up the serve, making 3 serves over all while getting points on errors from Concordia. Again, Johnson stepped into the picture and got a kill over the net to put the Seawolves at game point. To end the game off, Hooe set the ball back over to Fa’amausili to get in a kill and leave the Seawolves at 25-18.

After playing and witnessing how well the season has gone Johnson knew this was important.

“The chemistry is just there. It’s nice when we can convert how we work together at practice and make that happen here on the court,” Johnson said.

Finishing off the weekend, the Seawolves managed to pull through another 3-0 win. This win added up to be the astonishing 17th in their streak. How the players work together on and off the court is very important and this is an aspect that the Seawolves have come to strength with.

September 26, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

The Seawolf volleyball team has an interesting dynamic: it’s athletes comprise of girls from all over Anchorage who once played against each other as competitors before joining the Seawolf program. The Seawolf team is full of past rivals, but they are a successful team despite the circumstances. Head Coach Chris Green has the answer for…

December 6, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

The Seawolves were in for another highly contested NCAA Div. II West Regional game last Saturday night when they faced off against Cal State San Bernardino. This time though, there was no dog pile at center court after the final point, just disillusioned looks, some teary eyes and one tired bunch of college volleyball players. UAA was defeated 26-28, 21-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-12 by the powerhouse Coyotes out of Southern California, bringing to an end to the most successful season in program history.

With Katelynn Zanders watching from the bench — Mizuno sneaker on one foot and walking boot on the other, freshman Leah Swiss carried most of the load for the Seawolves with a career-high 25 kills. Caitlin Hanson and Julia Mackey combined for 25 kills and 5 blocks in their final games as Seawolves. Meanwhile, outside hitter Alexandra Torline put her team on her back, sending 20 kills over the net over the final three sets alone. San Bernardino’s Lauren Nicholson and Jayann DeHoog were also locked in. Nicholson finished with 21 kills and 15 digs and DeHoog had 62 assists.

The Seawolves saw a two set lead disappear as the Coyotes began put up points, quickly. San Bernardino went on a 14-4 run in the third set, giving them a comfortable lead that made UAA’s 5-1 run later in the set look cute.The Coyotes hit over over .400 in the fourth set to tie the match at 2-2 — holding the entire Alaska Airlines Center hostage — putting on a clinic in passing and hitting while erasing UAA’s lead. The Seawolves last chance came to recover came in the fifth set, but once again it was the Coyotes who jumped out to an early lead that would hold up.

Cal State San Bernardino lost the following night to Western Washington in the championship game.

The San Bernardino club has been one of the most dominant Div. II volleyball programs in the country over the last 15 years, losing in the national championship games in 2008 and 2011.

With a 27-3 overall record, including 14-2 at home, the UAA volleyball team brought plenty of excitement to campus over the past three months.

“I think we made a bunch of volleyball fans this season and hopefully they come back next year to watch us play,” Green said.

Zanders and Mackey will go down as two of the most decorated Seawolves in program history. Zanders was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year at the end the regular season while Julia Mackey was named First-Team All-GNAC for the fourth time in her career. Over the past four season, the two have been major offensive contributors. Zanders’ 1,392 career kills ranks second in Seawolf history while Mackey’s 1,130 ranks fifth.

December 6, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

Less than 10 minutes’ into their postseason lives, the UAA Seawolves suddenly found themselves without their senior ace Katelynn Zanders. The No. 1 seed UAA would prevail anyways, but not before two hours of back-and-forth drama thanks to a gutsy effort by the No. 8 seed Dixie State, 25-18, 15-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-12. With her…

November 8, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

The Central Washington Wildcats (16-6, 12-3 GNAC) have no reason to like the Seawolves (21-2, 13-2 GNAC) after Thursday night’s loss to UAA. The Seawolves now account for two of only three Great Northwest Athletic Conference losses the Wildcats have suffered this season.

Identical conference records for both the teams before the game 12 wins and 2 losses guaranteed the match immediate implications in the GNAC standings. After going up 2 sets to 0, UAA was unable to close out the third set, thus the beginning of a valiant Wildcat’s comeback effort. UAA would prevail in the end 25-17, 25-12, 22-25, 20-25, 15-13 after over two hours of heated play.

“It’s huge,” Seawolf senior Julia Mackey said of the victory. “This is the last three weekends in the GNAC and so our goal everyone’s goal has been to win GNAC.”

With a win over CWU and some favorable results elsewhere in the conference, UAA moved into a first place tie with Western Washington. The GNAC bases its champion on regular season records forgoing a conference tournament altogether.

The first two sets were controlled by the Seawolves. UAA’s core of Mackey, Katelynn Zanders, Leah Swiss, and Morgan Hooe broke into an offensive rhythm right away. The Seawolves went on an 11-2 run to start the game. UAA hit above .300 in the first set compared to the Wildcats’ .154. Hitting percentage is calculated by dividing the total attacks a team makes by its number of kills minus attack errors (13 kills – 4 errors/ 26 total attacks = 0.346 hitting percentage).

The Wildcats were again outplayed in the second set. Despite being one of the best blocking teams in the country, CWU had trouble clogging the Seawolves’ hitting lanes through two sets. Zanders was almost flawless in the second set, making kills on nearly every ball she sent over the net. The senior outside hitter had 6 kills in the second set.

After a brief intermission, the teams retook the court in the third set, CWU’s last opportunity to get back into the game. The Wildcats’ lives looked in jeopardy with the Seawolves up 16-12 after several seismic UAA blocks, but UAA’s shaky passing opened the door for CWU to gain some footing in the game.

“It was just a simple thing called ball control and we just didn’t have it as much in the first two games,” head coach Chris Green said.

The Wildcats took the fourth set, which led to the all-decisive fifth set, in which the Seawolves took 15-13.

The Wildcats were led by Linden Firethorne who delivered 12 kills, 7 digs, and 3 blocks.

November 12, 2013 Thomas McIntyre

An automatic birth to the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships is at stake for the Seawolf volleyball team, who’s sitting atop the GNAC standings. But the lead — and margin for error — is slim.

Four other teams are hunting the Seawolves: Western Washington, Northwest Nazarene, Seattle Pacific and Central Washington. Any missteps could open the door for one of them to claim the conference.

Collectively, the ‘Wolves are 4-2 against the squads that are still in the mix. However, they’re no longer the same team that ripped off nine consecutive conference wins.

Sophomore outside hitter Julia Mackey is now watching games from the sideline. When she suffered a knee injury in late October, UAA lost one of its biggest difference makers.

Going forward without Mackey will force the team to get more creative. There isn’t a simple plug-and-play option for replacing her massive presence on the court.

The Seawolves have shredded teams on offense this year. Within the GNAC, they’re first in service aces and second in hitting percentage, assists and kills.

Holding these numbers up without Mackey is going to take contributions from the whole unit. In the few games since she was injured, junior outsider hitter Brooke Pottle and sophomore middle blocker Caitlin McInerney have shown they can help fill the void on the outside.

The player most impacted by the new-look ‘Wolves could be sophomore outside hitter Katelynn Zanders. Zanders is now the team’s most feared offensive player. She’s sixth in the GNAC in kills per set and second in total kills. Like Kevin Durant without Russell Westbrook, her role just ballooned.

On the other side of the ball, two middle blockers have been stuffing action at the net. Senior Jodi Huddleston and freshman Erin Braun have 106 and 72 blocks, respectively. Huddleston is one of only three GNAC players to have reached the century mark in swats.

Two other dynamos have been senior setter Siobhan Johansen and junior libero Quinn Barker. Johansen is serving up dimes with 603 total assists on the season. Barker is creating endless opportunities with her 405 digs.

The next weekend of action is crucial for the ‘Wolves because they’ll host Western Washington. The Vikings are in prime position to steal that automatic bid.

One week after that, Seattle Pacific will welcome UAA and make their own attempt at climbing the ladder. Both opponents were victims during the Green and Gold’s nine-game winning streak.

But again, the Seawolves aren’t that team anymore. With a chance at postseason play on the table, they’ll have to spike a big one on the river.

The bout against Western Washington begins 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. 

 

November 5, 2013 Travis Dowling

The Northern Light recently caught up with Morgan Hooe, the freshman setter on the Seawolf women’s volleyball team. Hooe is a hometown product, having grown up here in Anchorage, Alaska. Along with sophomores Sarah Johnson and Katelynn Zanders, she’s one of the three South High School alumni currently on the Seawolves’ roster.

October 22, 2013 Thomas McIntyre

The Seawolf volleyball teams back home this weekend for two matches against fellow GNAC squads, the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders and Central Washington Wildcats.

Both visitors are sitting in the top half of the GNAC standings. The two crews have also tangled with the Seawolves earlier this season, with each of them losing 3-1 in their own backyards.

September 17, 2013 Thomas McIntyre

The Seawolf volleyball team is diving right into conference play this weekend with games versus the Seattle Pacific Falcons and Montana State Billings Yellowjackets. The first match pits the Seawolves against a Falcons team they split wins with in 2012.

Because it’s so early in the season, drawing conclusions from this year’s collection of stats is hard. The sample sizes are much too small. But there’s a lot to be learned from the ‘12 performances.

The Falcons’ main priority is making up for the loss of Cailin Fellows. Fellows finished her final season at Seattle Pacific by amassing 389 kills and having the second best average kills per set number in the GNAC (3.97).

Middle blocker’s Madi Cavell and Nikki Lowell should fill most of the void left by Fellows. Both reached 230 kills last season.

A chunk of the leftover production will be put on Ellie Britt’s plate. The sophomore outside hitter has posted solid totals throughout the first stretch of play.

If that trio plays well, the loss of Fellows won’t be too much of an advantage for the home team.

Junior libero Brianna Leenders is also going to be a huge factor Thursday night. Leenders has a knack for keeping the ball in play — her 445 digs proved that last season. She’s the type of player who can drag the ‘Wolves into long, tiring points.

The Yellowjackets are in a similar boat as the Falcons. They’re relying on lowerclassmen to rise up and produce after losing their second place leader in kills.

The good news for them — and bad news for UAA — is that junior outside hitter Monica Grimsrud hasn’t gone anywhere. Grimsrud led the team with 349 kills last year, and showed she can play both sides by adding in 159 digs.

Fellow junior outside hitter Chelsey Walter looks to be the other one to watch at the net. She’s off to a hot start after having a promising sophomore campaign.

Returning setter Kyndal Williams could be the team’s MVP going forward. Williams was 39 shy of 1,000 assists last season. She can get the most out of the players on the floor.

On top of losing offensive firepower, the Yellowjackets also waived goodbye to the 796 digs Erin Compton and Morgan Moss combined for. That loss might just sink the boat.

Lastly, it should be noted that middle blocker Taylor Adams is a product of A.J. Dimond High School. She’s had a slow start to the season but held down a prominent role on the Yellowjackets last year.

The Seawolves are in a great position to win the weekend. While the Falcons will be a stiff test, the Yellowjackets are a favorable matchup on paper.

To snatch both victories, the Green and Gold must do more of the same: protect the net, put Katelynn Zanders and Julia Mackey in spots to kill and stay active on defense.

November 13, 2012 Thomas McIntyre

The Seawolf volleyball team laid down a professional win Thursday night. Every cog of the team ran smoothly, and the result was a victory over the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets in straight sets.

After losing senior setter Kimya Jafroudi to an ankle sprain Wednesday night, the Seawolves knew they had to play a strong team game — and that’s exactly what they did. The squad came together and shut down the Yellowjackets 25-19, 25-21, 25-18.

Freshman outside hitter Julia Mackey had a monster outing. Mackey finished the night with a career-high of 18 kills. Freshman outside hitter Katelynn Zanders was second on the team in kills with eight.

Junior setter Siobhan Johansen recorded a double-double in assists and digs. Johansen led the team in both categories, totaling 31 assists and 13 digs.

Freshman outside hitter Sarah Johnson and sophomore libero Jordan Bush were right behind Johansen in digs, both adding 12 apiece.

Jafroudi is an assist machine as well as a proven team leader. Losing her to an ankle sprain could have crippled the Seawolves. Julia Mackey described how the team avoided that outcome.

“Everyone had to step up and play their role a little bit stronger,” said Mackey. “Communication was big. We had to communicate more and talk to each other.”

One player wasn’t going to make up for the loss of Jafroudi. Everyone on the team took a step forward in her absence, and it earned the Seawolves an important late-season win.

With the season winding down, now is the time for the team to play its best volleyball. The Seawolves like where they’re at but don’t think they have reached their full potential quite yet.

“I think this game proved that we are still growing,” said Mackey. “I think we’re reaching that goal we set for ourselves.”

Thursday night’s game also proved how far the Seawolves have already come. Not only did they rise up to win without Jafroudi, but they also won in a convincing fashion. That’s a good statement to send other teams heading into the last stretch of the season.

The Seawolves have no home games remaining. Their final test will come at the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships, which starts Nov. 29 at a location that has yet to be determined.

October 8, 2012 Thomas McIntyre

The Seawolf volleyball team couldn’t find their groove Saturday night. As a result, the Seawolves suffered a loss at the hands of the Western Washington University Vikings.