RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Juniors Chrisalyn Johnson and Leah Swiss each posted double-doubles but it was not enough against arch-rival and nationally 5th-ranked Western Washington on Thursday as the Vikings earned a 26-24, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18 win in the first round of the NCAA Div. II West Regional Volleyball Championships at Van Dyne Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (19-11) – seeded No. 7 and the defending regional champions – got 17 kills and 14 digs from Swiss and 16 kills and 16 digs from Johnson, along with 30 digs from senior libero Keala Kaio-Perez.
The No. 2-seeded Vikings (26-3) got 28 kills on .347 hitting and 16 digs from Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Abby Phelps, plus 30 digs from libero Aubrey Buckner as they won for the 20th straight time and advanced to Saturday’s regional semifinal against Northwest Nazarene.
“I was pleased with our effort tonight against an excellent Western Washington team,” said UAA head coach Chris Green, who led the Seawolves all the way to the national title match in 2016. “We definitely had an up-and-down season, but we got back to the NCAA Tournament and represented our program well tonight.”
Tied 23-23 in the second set, UAA got two straight kills from Johnson to tie the match, but the Vikings played their customary tough defense in the final two frames, outhitting UAA .200 to .106 and .238 to .062 to clinch it.
The match was a rematch of the 2016 West Region final, won 3-1 by the Seawolves in Anchorage.
The Seawolves, who finished tied for third in the GNAC this year after winning consecutive title in 2015 and 2016, lose just two seniors and return five of seven starters for next season.
“I can’t wait for spring practice to start,” said Swiss, who will begin her final season at No. 4 on UAA’s all-time kills list with 1,172. “We’ve got a great core group coming back, and I know we’ll be hungry to get back here because we know how to get here and what it takes.”