Seawolves cut it close before adding a 19th win to their streak

After quite an anxious game on Thursday, the Seawolves traveled from Washington to Idaho to play against Northwest Nazarene, ranked only No. 6 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, after UAA’s No. 1 rank.

Similar to Thursday’s game against Central Washington, the Seawolves had to pull themselves in from behind in the first set. After starting the set off with a several point lead, UAA fell significantly behind for the next half of the set. It wasn’t until both teams reached 20 points that it was evened back out, the Seawolves catching up from a 5 point deficit.

With very few errors in the first set, the Seawolves defense was just lacking a reaction. The offense, on the other hand, was served well from senior setter Morgan Hooe and sophomore outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson.

Hooe set her team up with 14 assists in set one. Out of those, Johnson utilized six of them with kills for points to help even up the score. After a few more rallies back and forth, the Seawolves were able to pull through with the first win of the night at a close 25-22.

Senior Morgan Hooe sets the ball during the Seawolves Oct. 15 game versus Northwest Nazarene. Photo credit: NNU Athletics

The close set was a reality check to the UAA women. Despite an undefeated status and 18 game win streak, every team is going to show up to play their best game.

Volunteer UAA volleyball coach Siobhan Johansen knew this to be true.

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“NNU is always a tough competitor so we’ll have to work hard and come to the game focused,” Johansen said.

With that goal in mind, the Seawolves sprung into set two, ready for action. They took an immediate lead and it didn’t stop there, reaching a 10 point lead at the peak of the set.

Now, not only Johnson sprung into action on Hooe’s assists, but the entire offense was able to add to the action. Diana Fa’amausili, Vanessa Hayes and Leah Swiss all put in some kills to add to the Seawolves lead.

With NNU not even in sight, the prominent pair Hooe and Johnson teamed up to get the set-winning point, putting the Seawolves at 25-17 for the second win of the night.

After the spike of energy and stamina the Seawolves experienced in set two, they had trouble carrying it on the the third set. While the beginning of the set wasn’t a struggle, they kept even with NNU – a third of the way in is when they began to fall off.

Northwest Nazarene didn’t get miraculously better, the Seawolves were losing on their own side of the court. With an average of five kill errors in the first two sets each, the Seawolves more than doubled that average to 13 errors in the third set.

Already landing so far behind in the set, it was more of a mental game at this point. More time was spent on the ground now, and the Seawolves were being less aggressive. Again, set one and two combined only resulted in 34 digs total between two sets, but set three gained an additional 26 digs alone. With the only option being to dive down to keep the rest of the team on their feet, sophomore libero Kyla Militante-Amper was able to tally down 10 digs for the set. With still too much to make up, the Seawolves succumb to the first loss of the night at 16-25.

To keep their head in the game, Johansen knew they needed to focus on their teamwork and stay determined, which is now more important than ever in the forth set.

“If [they] can keep NNU out of system with tough serving and keeping [their] own passing game strong I think [they] will do well,” Johansen said.

The Seawolves did exactly that to start the set off right. Not letting NNU get ahead again, the score stayed even for a good duration of the set, also reducing their kill errors to the least amount of the whole game, now only three.

It took half the set, but once the Seawolves reached 12 points it was no longer a question if they were going to fall behind again. Following regular team dynamics, Hooe set the other girls up for the well-needed kills to enhance their lead. Before long, it was finally set point and UAA was in the clear.

With the serve on UAA’s side, Taylor Noga stepped up to the line, ready to slip back in play after the ball went over, but instead a service ace gave the Seawolves at 25-19 win.

The Seawolves celebrate their 19th win overall, bringing their record winning season to 10-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Photo credit: NNU Athletics

After suffering a first set loss in weeks, the Seawolves still didn’t disappoint in the long run. Winning this game at 4-1 adds a 19th win to their streak, further extending their school record.