The Seawolves didn’t have to travel long or far for this game. Only an hour flight out of Anchorage, the UAA women flew the UAF on Tuesday, Sept. 25 to compete head on with their only other rival in the state.
As the weeks go by and the season progresses, the Seawolves have maintained their — newly single — first place position in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Additionally, the women progressed to be ranked 10th in Division II and continue their 14-1 streak overall, and left undefeated in the conference at 4-0. UAF, on the other hand, is sitting at 1-3 in the conference.
This game was one of many that the Seawolves knew they had to keep their determination on, any slip-up and their record could be lost. Freshman middle blocker Vanessa Hayes knows that every game can make a difference.
“I feel that we are well prepared. We are the defending GNAC champions so every team is going to play their best against us. We must always be prepared to battle against our opponents best game,” Hayes said.
The Seawolves started off strong against UAF. With a quick jump to almost double the scores, senior middle blocker Erin Braun and sophomore outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson pulled out several kills each. Supplying them with the opportunities, senior setter Morgan Hooe never failed to call the second hit and set up the ball for a hit, getting in 5 assists for just the first half of the set.
With a lead that is hard to lose, the Seawolves continue the put their best effort forward in set one. Freshman middle blocker Diana Fa’amausili came through with a kill of her own, along with another kill from Hayes.
With a total of 9 kills, 8 assists, and 5 digs on the Seawolves side of the court, they finished off the set with the first win of the night at 25-14.
Knowing that they were playing the number one seed and only undefeated conference team, UAF stepped up their game and gave the Seawolves 8 kills in the first set. Even with an 11 point deficit in set one, they maintained a long set with continuous rallies.
Hayes and her team knew that UAF would be playing hard to win.
“As far as difficulties go, coach always tells us that every team is out to get us,” Hayes said.
Records and previous games don’t matter when they step onto the court, games are determined in the seconds of instinct when the players judge their next move. With that theory in mind, the Seawolves began set two with 3 strong kills from Hooe, assisted by sophomore libero Kyla Miliante-Amper and Braun.
UAF resiliently started set two, pulling in close to UAA and not letting a game between the scores get too larger.
The Seawolves knew not to let anyone get too close, they couldn’t risk anything, a change can happen in a minute. With a quick pace change, UAA began to pull ahead. Braun served up another 2 kills, Johnson also with 2 and Swiss with 1 more. One after another, the Seawolves began racking up points.
Only half way through the set, UAA already accumulated more kills than they did in all of set one. UAF, completely opposite, had half of what they did in set one. The change of pace and change in determination was obvious at this point, the Seawolves stepped it up.
Johnson and Swiss pulled out 1 more kill each, both assisted from Hooe who has gathered an additional 8 assists since set one.
Not only so far undefeated in the conference but undefeated in this game, the Seawolves close off another set with a win at 25-19. This set a bit closer, with UAF closing in, the Seawolves know the next set is the game determining one.
After set two finished off, UAA ended with an additional 18 kills, 17 assists, and 18 digs. Even with a larger amount of errors, this set proved to be the best of the two so far, with the women almost doubling the amounts of everything.
Both teams had a new motivation at this point. UAA wanted to finish the game off 3-1, while UAF wanted to finish the game without going through with undefeated sets. Both things fueled in new enthusiasm that caused set three off to a slow start.
Bouncing back and forth between points, the Seawolves and Nanooks stayed in the same point range. Swiss and Johnson again both teamed up in back to back kills, assisted by Hooe.
Libero Miliante-Amper and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Noga both pulled in dig after dig to keep the Seawolves on their feet. 4 kills all from UAF in this set were recovered from the two.
Set three remained the slowest of all; both teams proving to have a drive to win the set. A once strong lead from UAA was being slowly depleted. In a final attempt to win the game, Hooe sent an assist outside and a kill from Fa’amausili ended the set at 25-20.
To continue their undefeated status in the conference and now 15-1 overall streak, UAA women finished their game vs. UAF 3-1 (25-14, 25-19, 25-20).