The Seawolf volleyball team spent the weekend of Sept. 12-14 in California competing in the Division II West Region Showcase. UAA competed in four games over the course of three days, competing against other West Region competitors for the first time this season.
They made their debut on Sept. 12 against previously undefeated Cal State San Marcos. In a competitive four matches, 26-24, 25-19, 19-2 and 25-19, the Seawolves managed to come out with the win.
Sophomore Eve Stephens and senior Vanessa Hayes continued to lead the Seawolves offensive team, with 15 and 13 kills, respectively.
Freshman Maggie Schlueter helped UAA turn around the first set. Schlueter assisted the Seawolves’ come back from San Marcos’ eight-point lead (24-16).
“The new players are doing really well. They have definitely connected fast and are doing really great things for the team,” Hayes said.
Schlueter stepped up to serve and managed four aces. She continued serving for the remainder of the set until the Seawolves surpassed San Marcos 25-24 and solidified the game point.
Head coach Chris Green was extremely proud of the team’s effort during their matches.
“That was a truly amazing comeback. Maggie caught fire with her serve, and we kept feeding off San Marcos’ mistakes. I was even more pleased with the maturity we displayed throughout the rest of the match, especially the way we took control at the end of sets two and four,” Green said.
Despite the comeback, the Seawolves again suffered another deficit in the second set. With help from Vera Pluharova knocking out four kills during the set, UAA recovered and won 25-19.
After two wins in a row, the Seawolves suffered their first loss in the third set (19-25), with a .000 hitting average. However, UAA was able to recover and redeem themselves with a 25-19 win in the fourth set.
UAA came back the same day to compete against Cal State San Bernardino, who is ranked second nationally. Despite a successful debut against San Marcos, the Seawolves suffered a 3-set loss against San Bernardino.
“Any time you play a program with the tradition that San Bernardino has, you know you’re going to be in for a difficult fight. Unfortunately, we could not match up with their All-American tonight, although our effort was good,” Green said.
The Seawolves made a solid effort, but were lacking in the 25-13, 25-17, 25-18 sets.
UAA’s regular team leaders accumulated fewer kills than normal with Stephens securing just seven, while Hayes collected six. Middle blocker Kayla McGlathery also managed to collect seven kills, with an average of .538.
On Sept. 13, the Seawolves had a competitive five-set game against conference rivals Biola. The two teams went through seemingly alternating wins, with sets of 25-17, 18-25, 25-11, 21-25, 16-1s, that allowed the Seawolves to win 3-2 after a 3-1 win against Biola last week.
Stephens and Hayes stepped up and secured their regular double-digit kills, 16 and 14, respectively. Both players also stepped up defensively. Hayes managed to accumulate 13 digs during the night, while Stephens collected 10 digs and five blocks.
“Any time it comes down to just a few points at the end like that, you need veterans who won’t panic, and Vanessa [Hayes] stepped up especially big as our only senior. She made some plays during those final few rallies — including a couple of huge digs — that allowed us to get this victory,” Green said.
In addition, Pluharova stepped up against Biola to tie her career-high nine blocks.
Pluharova kept up the competition during the Saturday game against Point Loma. The Seawolves managed a quick three-set win (25-21, 25-21, 25-21).
“That was our most complete match thus far. Our block was big today, especially Vera [Pluharova], who really took control of the middle defensively. We’re pleased to be coming out of here with three wins, but it won’t mean much unless we keep improving, with GNAC play starting next week,” Green said.
Pluharova led the Seawolves’ defense with eight total blocks, while also securing six kills and no errors. She was followed by Stephens with five blocks, who also helped to lead the offense with 16 kills, while Hayes struggled to secure her normally double-digit kills, tallying just eight. However, Hayes still managed to get a solid .300 hitting average and four aces.
Overall, the Seawolves managed a .216 hitting average on 36 kills. Point Loma collected two more total kills than the Seawolves, but with a .194 average, they suffered from their own errors.
Ellen Floyd, the Seawolves’ primary setter, tallied a total of 30 assists throughout Saturday’s matches. This comes after 39, 21, and 39 assists, respectively, over the previous three tournament games.
“You know, our goal really is always to win the GNAC title, but for now, we are just trying to focus one day at a time. Our statistics are really heavy on that, if we hit above .300, if we pass above 2.200, then those are the statistics we need to win GNAC, so we are well on our way,” Hayes said.
After completing the four-game tournament, the Seawolves are currently sitting second in the conference standings, despite not having played any conference games. UAA has a 5-3 overall record, tied with Central Washington. Ahead of them is the currently undefeated Western Washington, who holds an 8-0 record.
The Seawolves will begin GNAC competition on Sept. 19 in Seattle, Washington, competing against Seattle Pacific University. SPU currently sits seventh in conference standings with a 3-5 record.
For a full UAA volleyball schedule and game results, visit www.goseawolves.com.