Seawolves fall to No. 11 Vikings

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After recovering from their back-to-back losses on the road last week, the Seawolves celebrated a win over Simon Fraser at the Alaska Airlines Center on Thursday, Oct. 5. In a five-set match, the Seawolves were able to defeat the Clan in 18-25, 25-21, 25,18, 21-25 and 9-15.

Trying to keep that momentum going, the team faced Western Washington University with confidence. But in front of 1,177 cheering fans, the Seawolves recorded their third loss against a Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent this season on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Several players delivered big nights against the GNAC’s finest. Outside hitter Leah Swiss of Anchorage recorded a double-double with 22 kills and 19 digs, while libero Keala Kaio-Perez got a career-high of 36 digs and setter Casey Davenport contributed 44 assists, 18 digs and six kills.

Despite the impressive stats, the Seawolves lost to the former NCAA Div. II West Region champion.

“Western Washington is the elite in the league along with Northwest Nazarene,” Head Coach Chris Green said.

During the first set, both teams were battling head on holding score of 21-21, but a couple attack and handling errors by UAA gave Western Washington the advantage and they took the win of the first set 22-25.

The second set was another close game with UAA pulling away in the decisive moment. Swiss and Davenport showed great chemistry, collecting several points for the Seawolves. Outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson (10 kills, 16 digs) and middle blocker Tara Melton (8 kills, 3 blocks) also provided necessary kills.

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Returning after half-time, the Seawolves were caught off guard. The Viking’s defense stood strong and blocked numerous attacks by Johnson, middle blocker Vanessa Hayes and their teammates. They pulled away to a lead of 7-19 before UAA could make adjustments that enabled them to close the gap to 21-22. Despite the impressive efforts, the Seawolves fell short of the set’s win at 21-25.

“We want to win really bad, but we are very inconsistent,” Hayes said. “We need figure out our team chemistry, so we can all come together and be as a team. Because right now we are kind of playing individually. I feel like our missing piece is just to come together as a team. We know what to do now.”

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Outside hitter Anais Vargas and middle blocker Vanessa Hayes jump to block a spike at a home match. Photo credit: GoSeawolves

After the great third set, which urged most Seawolf fans out of their seats at the Alaska Airlines Center, the fourth set presented a similar scenario with the Vikings pulling away 13-18 before the Seawolves responded with a strong offense. Swiss and Anais Vargas (8 kills, 5 digs) delivered kills for their team and hope for the fans. The game was 22-23 before Joelee Buckner and Abby Phelps delivered for the Vikings to end the game.

The Vikings eaked out a .174 to .159 advantage in hitting percentage and delivered a strong defense performance by outblocking the Seawolves 21-7.

“It’s hard losing, but at the same time it also teaches you how much you really want it [to win] and how much you are willing to put in,” Hayes said. “What Coach said, ‘We should hate losing more than we want to win.’ That really hit home for me, because it is true. Everybody hates to lose more than they love to win, so that feeling [of losing] stays with you more than a win does. That really motivates our team to keep pushing, so we can win some more matches.”

On short rest, the Seawolves will travel to Portland, Oregon to face Concordia University on Oct. 13 before playing Western Oregon University in Monmouth on Oct. 14.