IRVINE, Calif. – Down two sets to none, the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team rode the hot hitting of senior Tara Melton and freshman Eve Stephens to pull a 21-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-22, 15-8 comeback victory over Cal State San Marcos on Friday at the D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase at Concordia University Arena.
The Seawolves (4-0) got 14 kills on .345 hitting from Stephens, a middle blocker from Colony High School in Palmer, and 10 kills on .562 hitting from Melton, who also delivered a match-high eight blocks assists.
The Cougars (2-3) were led by 11 kills and five total blocks from Kassy Doering, but the California Collegiate Athletic Association squad was held to .059 hitting and outblocked 15-12.
“As poorly as we played those first two sets, we were able to retain our composure and get the job done,” said UAA head coach Chris Green, whose team rallied from an 0-2 hole for the first time since Sept. 1, 2017, against Point Loma. “Our strong blocking was a big key again for us, including our ability to slow down their attack.”
Despite losing the first set and trailing 17-4 in the second, the Seawolves rallied to make the score respectable in that frame and regain their confidence with a 17-6 surge.
UAA never trailed in the third, pulling away midway through the set and clinching it on back-to-back kills by Chrisalyn Johnson and Melton.
The fourth was a wilder affair. After falling behind 9-0, the Cougars used a timeout and responded with a gargantuan momentum swing, tying it 13-13 and pulling ahead 19-14 on consecutive attack errors by the Seawolves. Johnson converted a feed from sophomore setter Casey Davenport to stop the run, however, and freshman setter Ellen Floyd served two of her five aces during an 8-0 run that swung the tied again. The Cougars fought off a pair of set points before Melton smashed home a pass from Floyd.
Tied 4-4 in the fifth, UAA took advantage of some sloppy hitting by the Cougars with six straight points. San Marcos never got closer than 11-6 the rest of the way, and Melton reprised her role with another kill to end it on match point.
Johnson finished with 12 kills, eight digs and a career-high six total blocks, while junior outside hitter Vanessa Boyer and sophomore middle blocker Vera Pluharova combined for 12 kills and 10 block assists. Sophomore libero Anjoilyn Vreeland led UAA with 21 digs, and Floyd tallied her the best all-around totals of her young career with 28 assists, five aces and seven digs.
Friday’s match was the first-ever meeting between the two programs.