The UAA Seawolves Volleyball team passed their first test of the Springhill Suites tournament Thursday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The home team defeated Azusa Pacific from California in four sets — 22-25, 25-20, 26-24, and 25-19 — to open tournament play.
Head coach Chris Green acknowledged the composure his team showed as one of the ingredients for victory. “The girls didn’t panic, so I’m very happy about that,” said Green. “It was a big win, I think Azusa Pacific is a great team.”
Azusa Pacific, as with the rest of the tournament field, do not share the same conference as UAA. The Seawolves have only played Azusa Pacific once in their history, and were victorious on that occasion.
UAA played from behind for most first set after the Cougars jumped out to an early lead. The Seawolves would calm their nerves in the second set after dropping the first set to the Cougars. This gave the 800-odd fans in attendance a chance to make their support known, cheering loudly with every Seawolf kill. Seniors Julia Mackey and Katelynn Zanders began guiding the Seawolf offense — combining for 7 kills on 19 attacks to help their team take the second set.
After coming out of the half time with the match tied 1-1, both teams played competitive third set. The set would prove to be the tipping point of the match. Zanders continued to fire the ball through the teeth of the Cougars’ defense and recorded 6 kills in the set. The teams were knotted at 24-24 when UAA called a timeout. The Seawolves went on the score the next two points thanks to kills by Zanders and middle blocker Erin Braun. Several other Seawolves played a strong second half, including setter Morgan Hooe.
Hooe showed very little sign of fatigue throughout the match and the junior’s hustle would pay off in a big way in the fourth set.
The setter from South Anchorage High School dove out-of-bounds to keep an extended volley alive that the Seawolves would eventually cash in on to go up 6-2.
“There aren’t many players that can do what she does when balls are flying everywhere,” said Green of Hoe.
Azusa Pacific never came within a point of the Seawolves in the last set. Right side hitter Caitlin Hanson made the final play of the game, blocking a Cougar attack to give the Seawolves their first victory of the season.
The Seawolves continued to dominate the tournament today, with a 3-1 victory over Rockhurst.
UAA doesn’t have too long to rest up before tonight’s match-up against Nebraska Kearney at 7 p.m. But the way the Seawolves have looked as of late, that shouldn’t matter.