UAA volleyball falls behind in rankings after eight games

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Madison Fisher serves up the ball in their 1st set against CBU. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

After two previous years of Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles, and a more recent NCAA National runner-up finish, the UAA volleyball is only several games into their 2017 season. The team finished the previous season with a 34-3 overall record and a 19-1 GNAC record.

Already coming in with good prospects, the Seawolves were picked as No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Poll. At the voting, UAA received 1,002 votes, one vote even ranking them at first-place. However, Concordia-St. Paul is still ahead at No. 1, with Southwest Minnesota State and Nebraska Kearney in front of the Seawolves as well.

With the loss of All-American setter Morgan Hooe and All-GNAC middle blocker Erin Braun, who each made a huge contribution to the team’s success, the Seawolves only have four returning starters, including Leah Swiss, Chrisalyn Johnson and Diana Fa’amausili.

Leah Swiss tips the ball to CBU finishing with 5 kills throughout the match. Photo credit: Jay Guzman.

Swiss earned All-American and First Team All-GNAC honors after finishing second in the GNAC with 3.56 kills per set, a 0.242 hitting percentage, 2.77 digs per set and 58 blocks.

Johnson spent the previous season accumulating many successes. She boasts the title of All-NCAA Tournament honors at the Elite Eight with her record of 3.09 kills per set.

The GNAC and AVCA West Region Freshman of the Year, Fa’amausili returns with a previous record of 2.75 kills per set and 1.05 blocks per set.

After being ranked No. 4 in the national preseason poll, the Seawolves were honored with the repeat of being ranked No. 1 in the GNAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll after receiving 110 points, with five of the votes being first-place votes.

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Western Washington came in at second with 109 points and three first-place votes. Northwest Nazarene ranked third with 106 points and three first-place votes, followed by Central Washington (89) and Simon Fraser (77).

The Seawolves debuted their season nearly three weeks ago with the alumni game at the Alaska Airlines Center on Aug. 25. However, their first regular season games took place from Sept. 1-2 in San Diego.

UAA suffered an initial loss (2-3) for their first regular season game against UC San Diego until rallying up two wins and an additional loss for their first tournament, the Seaside Invitational.

Chrisalyn Johnson and Vanessa Hayes get ready to block a hit on in their game versus the California Baptist Lancers. Photo credit Jay Guzman.

Since then, the Seawolves have only suffered additional loses to California Baptist University (0-3) and Cal State San Bernadino (2-3).

In their most recent games, the team traveled to Billings, Montana over the weekend of Sept. 15-16 to compete against Rocky Mountain and Montana State Billings.

Against Rocky Mountain, the Seawolves took the win with a final score of 3-1. A day later they rallied again and took the win against Montana State Billings before heading home.

Now that the official season has started, new rankings have been updated, placing the Seawolves further behind than initially expected.

In the NCAA Division II volleyball rankings updated on Sept. 11, UAA currently sits at No. 18. As for GNAC rankings, the Seawolves rank at No. 5 with an overall record of 6-4. Northwest Nazarene currently takes No. 1 in GNAC with a 9-0 record, followed by Western Washington (7-2), Concordia (6-2) and Western Oregon (5-3).

The Seawolves will continue their season with two home games on Sept. 21 and 23 against Saint Martin’s and Seattle Pacific.

For ticket information and an official schedule, visit www.goseawolves.com.