Seawolves stun #7 Vikings in five sets
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Katelynn Zanders smashed 22 kills and Brooke Pottle recorded a double-double Saturday to propel the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team to one of the biggest wins in program history with a 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 19-25, 15-12 upset of nationally 7th-ranked Western Washington at Carver Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (15-6, 9-0 GNAC) also got 12 kills from sophomore right-side hitter Julia Mackey as they snapped WWU’s 17-match home winning streak and took over as the last unbeaten team in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
The Vikings (14-2, 7-1) were led by 19 kills and eight total blocks from middle blocker Kayla Erickson, while setter Taylor Dillard delivered 55 assists.
WWU led throughout the first set and held on for a narrow win after UAA sliced it to 24-23. The second frame was an epic affair, featuring 19 ties and seven lead changes. The Seawolves took the largest lead of the set at 20-17 before the Vikings called timeout and answered with four straight points. UAA’s Maureen Sabado hit an open attack just long to tie it 24-24, but the junior from Kodiak made amends with a kill on the ensuing point and a block assist on the next rally to tie the match.
UAA took control early in the third and appeared on its way to an easy win with a 16-8 lead. WWU slowly sliced into the advantage and fought off three set points to claw within 24-23, before Mackey put an end to the comeback with a kill off the Vikings’ block.
The Vikings overcame an early 3-0 hole in the fourth to send the match the distance and scored the first point of the fifth set. That would be the final lead for the home team, though. Leading 6-5, UAA got a pair of kills from middle blocker Erin Braun during a 3-0 run, and the Vikings could not get any closer than two points the rest of the way. Erickson’s final kill and an attack error by Mackey drew WWU within 14-12 before Seawolf setter Siobhan Johansen fed senior middle blocker Jodi Huddleston for the decisive final kill.
WWU entered the match having lost only four sets all season, and the Vikings had not lost a home match since falling to the Seawolves in 2011. Meanwhile, the result snapped an 8-match losing streak against ranked opponents for the Seawolves.
Zanders, a sophomore from South Anchorage High School, tied a GNAC season-best with her 22 kills, which were also the most in a league encounter so far. The outside hitter tied her career-highs with 15 digs and four block assists for her team-best sixth double-double this year. Pottle, a junior outside hitter from Peoria, Ariz., earned her second double-double as a Seawolf, tying career-highs in kills (12) and digs (17).
Braun, a 6-1 true freshman from San Bernardino, Calif., tied her career-high with 10 kills on .360 hitting, committing just one attack error, while fellow middle blocker Huddleston accounted for five kills and a team-high six total blocks. UAA was led by 23 digs from junior libero Quinn Barker, and freshman setter Morgan Hooe tallied 21 assists and a career-high 19 digs.
Johansen added a great all-around performance as well, finishing with 38 assists, 11 digs and a career-high-tying five aces.
UAA won despite losing the statistical battles in attack pct. (.188 to .152), digs (104-98) and total blocks (12-8).
The Seawolves begin the second half of GNAC play when they host third-place Northwest Nazarene (10-5, 6-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
NOTES: WWU fell to 117-13 since 2000 at Carver Gymnasium, with three of those losses coming against UAA (all since 2009) … the Seawolves have now won six of the last nine in the series … UAA has equaled the sixth-longest win streak in program history with nine straight and finished perfect in the first half of GNAC play for the first time since the league’s founding in 2001 … Johansen moved into 10th place on UAA’s career assists list, now with 1,472, while the Palmer (Colony HS) product also moved into the top 20 in aces, now with 83 … UAA’s last win over a ranked team came in a 4-setter at home against No. 15 Seattle Pacific, Sept. 29, 2011; the Seawolves were previously 0-3 against ranked teams in 2013.