After the unfortunate first loss in 20 games, the Seawolves stepped back up to take on their in-state rival — University of Alaska Fairbanks. UAF and UAA both being a part of the University of Alaska system puts an interesting twist on the game.
“It’s not a rivalry where we go at each others neck, it’s just an in-state rivalry we can look forward to and have fun with,” senior setter Morgan Hooe said.
The previous loss ended up costing them three spots in the division II rankings, placing them now at No. 11 down from No. 8, but they stood their ground as the top Great Northwest Athletic Conference team. Restarting their streak, UAA booted back up by winning their first rebound game at 3-0. This puts their overall record at 22-2 and their conference record at 12-1.
After this game, University of Alaska Fairbanks was at 1-12 conference record and their overall record 2-17.
In an even start, the Seawolves and the Nanooks kept it slow and played defensively. The scores stayed steady and both teams managed a small percentage of errors. UAA knew they had to approach this game differently after their previous loss.
“I would like to play more relaxed and somewhat eager at the same time because I tend to play nervous. But I still want the hunger to win,” Leah Swiss, sophomore outside hitter said.
Playing relaxed already starting out in set one helped them get the lead that they eventually needed.
The set didn’t start to pick up until freshman middle blocker Diana Fa’amausili stepped up to the net. With assistance from Hooe, Fa’amausili was able to get in the first several kills of the night, causing the game to pick up.
Halfway through the set, both teams ended up playing more offensively and the scores still stayed steady and even. Sophomore libero Kyla Militante-Amper was up to serve close to the end of the set and was able to accumulate six serves in row, gaining four of those points from errors on the Nanook’s side. This began to put the pressure on UAF, who called a timeout halfway through.
Back in the set and the seniors took over to finish off strong with the first win of the night. Senior middle blocker Erin Braun had the ball set her way letting her get a kill in, bringing the score to set point. Hooe then got a kill off Taylor Noga’s dig, winning the set at 25-19.
Keeping their momentum going, the Seawolves rallied strongly into the second set. Sophomore outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson brought in the early points off her three successful serves, leading the way into the Seawolves quick lead.
With a pattern of strong serves being the trend in this game, Swiss continued this by stepping up to the line five serves in row, two resulted in aces. And again, halfway through the set, Militante-Amper accumulated five serves in a row, racking up more points on aces and UAF’s errors.
Again, with patterns being prevalent, the two seniors Hooe and Braun ended the set with kills after five successful serves from Noga.
Halftime gave a much-needed break for both teams when Swiss was able to reflect and examine how this years’ team has a prevalence of strong sophomores.
“We can teach the freshman the ways from what we went through last year, too,” Swiss said.
Having such a strong team with such young players provides a beneficial baseline for coming years.
Rolling into set three, the Seawolves initiated a strong lead which soon was caught up to by UAF. This is been the Seawolves pulled out their strong offensive skills. By far, set three for UAA was the strongest of all the sets yielding a total of 22 kills, compared to 10 and 15 in the previous sets.
With the Seawolves close to game point, UAF was only a point behind. Swiss was the last up to serve, and with three successful serves she was able to close the set off for the night. Hooe set the ball up, and Johnson was the last to make contact with it for the night by getting a kill over to win the set.
After a rough loss ending the Seawolves twenty game win streak, they knew they had to come back out and play hard. Reflecting on the previous game, Hooe knew they needed to change things up.
“We talked about we have to come out and play like champions, we have to play like we want to win GNAC,” Hooe said.
With that, UAA started off a new streak with their first win against UAF at 3-0 (25-19, 25-11, 25-21).