ANCHORAGE – Senior Chrisalyn Johnson, junior Vanessa Boyer and freshman Eve Stephens ripped seven kills apiece to lead a balanced attack Thursday for the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team in a 25-19, 25-15, 25-14, season-opening sweep of Western New Mexico in the UAA Invitational at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves also got a career-high six kills and three blocks from senior Taylor Noga, who started at right-side hitter for the first time in her career. Noga added eight digs, while sophomore libero Anjoilyn Vreeland tallied a team-best 13 digs in her UAA debut, helping the hosts to a whopping .329 to .000 advantage in attack percentage.
The Mustangs were led by eight kills from outside hitter Erin Moss and 15 digs from libero Gabi Lau, but the Lone Star Conference squad was outblocked 11-2 as well.
“That was a great way to start the season,” said 11th-year head coach Chris Green, whose Seawolves are aiming for a sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance this season. “As a coach, it’s always pleasing to see your offense so balanced, and we looked comfortable in our ‘6-2’ system.”
After falling behind 11-10 in the opening set, UAA got consecutive kills from Boyer (formerly Hayes) and Johnson start a 4-0 run that claimed the lead for good. The Seawolves used a 5-0 spurt to start the second set and jumped ahead 7-3 in the third, never trailing in either frame.
Sophomore middle blocker Vera Pluharova had four kills and dominated the net with a career-high eight block assists, while Boyer added five block assists. Senior middle blocker Tara Melton was one of five Seawolves with at least six kills, hitting a team-best .500 (6-1-10) on the night.
Meanwhile, a pair of true freshmen chipped in with impressive debuts, with Stevens hitting .333 (7-1-18) and making three total blocks, and setter Ellen Floyd dishing a match-high 21 assists.
The Seawolves return to the Alaska Airlines Center on Friday at 7:30 p.m. to face Barton (N.C.) College. Call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com to purchase tickets.