Seawolves stop 'Nooks in 5-set thriller
The Seawolves (14-6, 9-3 GNAC) also got 54 assists, 11 digs and three blocks from senior setter Kimya Jafroudi as they extended their win streak to five against their oldest rivals.
The Nanooks (4-14, 2-10) got 15 kills and 12 digs from outside hitter Sam Harthun but could not hold on to a 12-10 lead late in the fifth set.
UAF grabbed its late edge with a six-point run after trailing 10-6. But the Seawolf coach Chris Green called timeout and his team responded with a kill by Zanders, followed by a UAF setting error. Harthun put the Nanooks back on top with a kill, however Zanders answered again with an authoritative spike. UAA took the lead on Reilly Stevens’ attack error and clinched the victory when Mackey, an outside hitter from Fairbanks’ West Valley High School, launched the ball down the line and off a Nanook defender.
UAA had taken a 2-1 lead earlier in the match when it fought off four set points in the third frame. Trailing 27-26, Sarah Johnson tied it with one of her 12 kills, Zanders put the visitors ahead with another, and UAF’s Keri Knight sent her attack just wide to end it.
The third-set rally was sparked by Zanders, who had recorded just three kills and eight attack errors at the midpoint of the match. Halfway through the third, though, the South Anchorage High School product came alive, blasting kills on eight of UAA’s final 16 points in the frame.
With the victory, the Seawolves clinched their unprecedented fifth straight winning season and at least a .500 record in the league, with six matches remaining. Just as importantly, UAA stayed within 1.5 matches of Great Northwest Athletic Conference leader Western Washington. The Seawolves now sit tied for second in the standings with Western Oregon after 22nd-ranked Central Washington suffered its second loss in three days earlier Saturday.
Johnson, another freshman outside hitter, added 14 digs to earn her team-high eighth double-double, including two against UAF. Junior libero Siobhan Johansen was solid along the back row as well, with her 32 digs accounting for a career-high and the most for a Seawolf since Quincy Haught’s 32 against Central Washington on Nov. 5, 2011.
The Seawolves return to the road next week when they fly south to face nationally ranked WWU on Thursday, Nov. 1, and Simon Fraser on Saturday, Nov. 3.
NOTES: UAA’s five straight victories mark its longest streak against UAF since winning nine straight from 1987-90 … Saturday was the 94th all-time meetings between the clubs, with UAA now leading 60-34 overall and 25-22 at the Patty Center … Mackey came one kill short of her career-high (16 vs. CWU, Sept. 13, 2012) … UAA won despite committing 21 service errors with only two aces.