BURNABY, British Columbia – Sophomore Vera Pluharova tallied 11 blocks and freshman Eve Stephens stayed hot with 13 kills Thursday to propel the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team to a 13-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-21 win over Simon Fraser at the SFU West Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (11-2, 4-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got a 11 kills, 15 digs and a career-high six total blocks from senior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson as they won their fourth straight and stayed tied for second in the league standings.
The Clan (5-6, 2-3) were led by 10 kills and 15 digs from Betsie de Beer, but the hosts could not capitalize on their momentum after dominating the opening set.
“Our block really started to come together in the second set, and that’s what ultimately made the difference tonight,” said UAA head coach Chris Green. “We were playing a different system than we have this year because of an injury, but we made excellent adjustments and got a big win.”
Playing for the first time without sophomore setter Casey Davenport, who was injured in practice Wednesday, the Seawolves made the move to a one-setter system. After a rough first set, freshman setter Ellen Floyd started finding Stephens on offense, and Pluharova’s block sparked the defense to help UAA tie the match 1-1.
After dominating the third set, the Seawolves found themselves in a 16-8 hole in the fourth when Green called a timeout. A kill by Pluharova stopped Simon Fraser’s momentum and led to a 5-0 Seawolf run, capped by consecutive kills from Stephens.
A Johnson spike tied it at 18-18, and Vanessa Boyer gave UAA the lead for good with a kill to make it 20-19. The Seawolves finished their ending 17-5 surge by taking three of the last four points, including two kills by Boyer and a block by Pluharova and Floyd on match point.
With nine assists and two solos, Pluharova’s 11 total blocks equaled the most for a Seawolf in 18 years of GNAC play. The Czech native added four kills on .250 hitting.
Coming off GNAC and national player-of-the-week honors, Stephens committed just one attack error and finished with a match-best .375 hitting percentage, while Boyer contributed nine kills and tied her career high with three aces.
Floyd responded in her first match as UAA’s full-rotation setter as well, notching personal bests of 40 assists, four kills, .333 hitting and six block assists.
After playing right-side hitter for the majority of the season, senior Taylor Noga made her first start at libero and came up with a match-high 23 digs.
UAA outhit the Clan .175 to .050 over the final three sets and posted a whopping 17-3 advantage in blocks.
The Seawolves complete a four-match road swing Saturday at 6 p.m. ADT when they face league-leading and defending GNAC champion Western Washington in Bellingham, Wash. The 8th-ranked Vikings (10-3, 5-0) carry a 10-match winning streak into the contest, which can be seen at gnac.tv or youtube.com/WWUVikingsAthletics.
Most Total Blocks by Seawolf, GNAC match
Brianne Halling at CWU, 10/6/01
Mindy Lindquist vs MSUB, 9/3/04
Chelsey Glines at WOU, 10/27/05
Cortney Lundberg vs CWU, 10/22/09
Vera Pluharova at SFU, 9/20/18