BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Junior outside hitters Leah Swiss and Chrisalyn Johnson combined for 31 kills but it was not enough for the visiting Alaska Anchorage volleyball team on Thursday as 8th-ranked Western Washington earned a 25-13, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20 victory at Carver Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (16-8, 11-4 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got a career-high-tying 36 digs from senior libero Keala Kaio-Perez in the showdown between the last two NCAA Div. II West Region champions, while freshman setter Casey Davenport had 41 assists and 20 digs.
The Vikings (20-3, 14-1) got 19 kills and 25 digs from Abby Phelps, along with 15 kills and 28 digs from Joellee Buckner as they extended their winning streak to 13 and maintained a one-match lead over Northwest Nazarene in the GNAC race.
UAA – No. 8 in the initial NCAA Div. II West Region rankings – started with the first three points of the match but could not regain any momentum until the third set. The Seawolves controlled the action in the third frame until the Vikings tied it 21-21 on a kill by Phelps. A UAA timeout led to a 3-0 run, however, and Tara Melton thwarted a late WWU rally with a kill down the middle, handing the Vikings just their third set loss during their current win streak.
The Seawolves led from the outset in the fourth and clung to a 14-12 lead when the Vikings – ranked No. 3 in the region – made their decisive surge. Phelps started a 10-2 run for the home team with a kill, and setter Brette Boesel capped it with an ace to make it 22-16. The Seawolves scored the next three points before WWU ended on a 3-1 run, clinching its first regular-season series sweep of UAA since 2012.
“We got off to a slow start against a very good team, and that’s hard to recover from,” said UAA head coach Chris Green. “We showed a lot more determination and were playing well in the fourth, but we weren’t able to answer their last run.”
Swiss finished with 17 kills and 15 digs for her team-high 13th double-double this year, while Johnson earned her seventh double-double in the last eight matches with 14 kills and a season-high 22 digs. Melton added eight kills and four total blocks, and junior defensive specialist Taylor Noga had a season-high 18 digs – one shy of her career high.
With their final four matches scheduled back home at the Alaska Airlines Center, the Seawolves finish their regular-season road slate Saturday when they face Simon Fraser at 6 p.m. ADT in Burnaby, British Columbia. That match and all GNAC contests can be seen live at GNAC.tv.