BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Freshman Eve Stephens tied for match-high honors with 14 kills but the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team could not carry its momentum past the second set Saturday as No. 8 Western Washington earned a 25-23, 18-25, 25-13, 25-11 victory at Carver Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (11-3, 4-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) – who entered with a 4-match win streak – also got 10 kills, 14 digs and five blocks from senior Chrisalyn Johnson in a battle of programs that have accounted for the last three GNAC titles.
The defending-champion Vikings (11-3, 6-0) were led by 14 kills and six blocks from middle blocker Kayleigh Harper, while fellow all-league selection Abby Phelps notched 11 kills and 19 digs. WWU outhit UAA .191 to .099 to collect its fourth straight win in the series and 11th straight after an 0-3 start this year.
“We played some of our best volleyball of the season in the second set,” said head coach Chris Green, who led the Seawolves to the 2015 and 2016 GNAC crowns. “Unfortunately we couldn’t find a spark in the last two sets, and you can’t give anything but your best effort against a team of that caliber and expect to be successful. We’ll regroup and get ready for a very tough Concordia team coming up.”
UAA nearly used a huge comeback to take the first set, digging out of a 17-11 hole and drawing within 24-23 on a kill by senior middle blocker Tara Melton. Johnson’s attack went into the Viking block on the ensuing play and appeared to possibly deflect off the antenna, but the call was not overturned on replay challenge, giving WWU the early lead.
The Seawolves trailed 13-10 in the second before winning five of the next six rallies, including a pair of kills by Stephens – the reigning GNAC offensive and AVCA national player-of-the-week. An attack error gave UAA the lead for good at 18-17, and Johnson delivered a solo block to cap a 15-5, match-tying surge.
The Seawolves’ momentum would not last, however, as they hit for a negative percentage in set three and were outslugged .326 to .030 in set four.
Johnson, a senior from Anchorage’s Dimond High School, recorded her team-high eighth double-double this season and moved into 10th place on UAA’s all-time kills list, now with 945.
The Seawolves return to the Alaska Airlines Center next week for a pair of matches, starting with Thursday’s 7 p.m. contest against Concordia-Portland (7-6, 4-2). Call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com for tickets.