For the first game back in Alaska after several weeks, the UAA women’s Seawolves volleyball hosted Western Oregon in the Alaska Airlines Center on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.
After already kicking off the month of October with a win in Montana last weekend, the Seawolves now posses an impressive undefeated 6-0 rank in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. In addition, with a now improved rank, the Seawolves sit at 12th in the entire Division II.
Their counterparts from Western Washington on the other hand, sit 7th in GNAC, with a 2-4 conference record and a 5-8 season record.
Back on familiar ground, the Seawolves knew that they had an advantage. Freshman Vanessa Hayes realized this.
“We tried to keep it simple. Doing things that we could control on our side of the net. We practice how we play so that we’re not stressing come game time,” Hayes said.
With an unfortunate start to set one for UAA, Western Oregon racked up the first 3 points off their own serves. Only to realize their errors and redeem themselves, the Seawolves pulled together with blocks from senior middle blocker Erin Braun and sophomore outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson. Pulling ahead quickly, senior outside hitter Leah Swiss and Braun pull out 2 kills a piece.
After a time out on UAA, Western Oregon began to recover with a couple errors from the Seawolves, closing the score gap. But quickly enough senior setter Morgan Hooe assisted Braun, Swiss and Johnson to several kills each to increase their score.
Close to finishing off the set, the Seawolves held a 10 point lead over Western Oregon. With it being the set point, Hooe served the ball over to start the rally, back and forth a few times led the ball to Hooe again, who then assisted freshman middle blocker Diana Fa’amausili with the set winning kill at 25-14.
After winning set one, the Seawolves furnished off 14 kills, 13 assists, and 11 digs.
Set two, not unlike the first set, started off with Western Oregon in the lead. Helping to keep the Seawolves on their feet during a rocky start, Johnson dove to the ground to accumulate several more digs.
Half way through set two and UAA still only had a slight lead over Western Oregon. Again to step up and pair up, Johnson and Braun leaped to get a block and pull in another point. Soon after, Braun was up to serve, but only got two over until the second serve was a point for Western Oregon.
With Hooe up to serve now, the Seawolves earned a point almost immediately with a kill from Fa’amausili. After pulling ahead significantly, the Seawolves encountered 4 separate attack errors to set them back, but only temporarily.
The home stretch of the set coming in sight, Western Oregon continued scoring on the Seawolves, enough that UAA called for a timeout. After the quick break, Western Oregon again came back to score on the Seawolves.
In a turn of events, a kill by Fa’amausili lead to a change of serves to get sophomore libero Kyla Miliante-Amper the ball, resulting in a serve ace. An additional two kills by Braun lead the team to the set point. An a final assist by Hooe gave the ball to Braun for the set winning kill.
In this second close set, UAA prospered over Western Oregon to win 25-21.
Although there were ups and downs during the first two sets, the team came through and redeemed themselves by fixing their mistakes. Hooe acknowledged this need to exceed.
“We come out, we try to have fun, we obviously love this game, but we have to focus on improving ourselves,” Hooe said at halftime.
With one more set needed the win their game, the UAA volleyball team took a much needed break for the UAA Track and Field ceremony while they were awarded their GNAC Champion rings for a unique halftime appearance.
Getting back into gear to set three, the Seawolves furnished an immediate point from freshman middle blocker Hayes’ kill. With a quick jump to the lead, Miliante-Amper served for the Seawolves, helping Braun get 2 more kills.
Toggling back and fourth, Western Oregon proved that just like the previous two sets, the had the ability for strong starts. Braun lined up to serve, getting a quick point out of the first serve, but an unfortunate loss of point on the second serve. Staying at only one point ahead, UAA makes several errors to cut it close.
The second half of the set going by relatively slow, the Seawolves still only had a slight lead. A kill error by Western Oregon gave the Seawolves a point closer to their win, but 2 more errors on UAA’s side off set their increasing lead.
Finally at the set winning point for the Seawolves, Western Oregon got up to serve. A final error from Western Oregon led UAA to the win at 25-19.
After a 3-0 game for UAA, it was quite obvious that the beginning of each set was a bit of a struggle. Western Oregon continued to gain off the of the Seawolves’ errors, but in the end UAA prospered to continue their now school record of a 16 game win streak.
Finishing off the first game back at home, the Seawolves managed to accumulate an impressive 44 kills, 39 assists, 41 digs and 10 blocks by the end of the game.
Even more impressively, 34 of those assists belonged to Hooe, while her teammates Braun managed 12 kills and Johnson with 9 digs.
To add another tally to their wins, the Seawolves now have a 7-0 conference record and a 17-1 season record. The team played again on Saturday, Oct. 8 taking on rivals Concordia at 2 p.m.