NAMPA, Idaho – Madi Farrell had 17 kills and Hailey Cook delivered 44 assists Thursday as 12th-ranked Northwest Nazarene won a Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball first-place showdown at the Johnson Sports Complex, beating 21st-ranked Alaska Anchorage 25-18, 25-21, 21-25, 25-11.
The two-time defending GNAC champion Seawolves (9-5, 4-1) saw their five-match win streak end despite 13 kills and two aces from junior outside hitter Leah Swiss, plus career-high kills numbers from middle blockers Vanessa Hayes (8) and Tara Melton (7).
The Crusaders (13-0, 5-0) took control early behind the play of Farrell as the All-American middle blocker hit .500 on the evening and added four total blocks. Outside hitters Kendra Bodine and Mari Thomas combined for 29 kills for NNU, which outhit UAA .324 to .181.
UAA – which knocked off NNU in a 5-set NCAA Second Round thriller on its way to the 2016 National Title Match – was able to avert a sweep with a wire-to-wire win in the third set, getting six kills from Swiss in the frame. That extended UAA’s streak to 50 straight GNAC matches without being swept.
Sophomore setter Madison Fisher collected 19 assists, a team-high 16 digs and a career-high four kills, while junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson notched nine kills. The loss snapped UAA’s 12-match win streak in GNAC matches (last vs. Western Washington, Oct. 22, 2016), 16-match win streak in road matches (last at Chaminade, Aug. 26, 2016) and 18-match win streak in GNAC road matches (last at NNU, Oct. 8, 2015).
“Northwest Nazarene did a nice job of sticking to its plan and their big weapons really played well tonight,” said UAA head coach Chris Green. “It was nice to see some improved offensive play from our middles, but we need to be more consistent in other areas of the game in order to compete at this level. We’ll regroup and try to get back on track Saturday at Central.”
The Seawolves complete this week’s road swing against playoff-contending clubs when they visit Central Washington at 6 p.m. ADT Saturday in Ellensburg, Wash. That match and all GNAC contests can be seen live on GNAC.tv.
NOTES: Melton and Fisher both notched their most kills as a Seawolf by one apiece, while Hayes matched her career for the fifth time, including her 8-kill effort in the 2016 NCAA Semifinals win over Palm Beach Atlantic … Swiss moved up one spot on the Seawolves’ career aces list, now in 6th place with 120 … Swiss needs just one more ace to catch Nikkie Viotto (121 aces, 2009-12) for 5th place and 16 more kills to catch Carolyn DeKay (938 kills, 2001-04) for 9th place on those respective UAA career lists … freshman middle blocker Jalisa Ingram saw her third action of the season and first since Sept. 12, recording her first career block assist during UAA’s 3rd-set victory.