ANCHORAGE – Vanessa Boyer powered a big Alaska Anchorage comeback with a career-high 15 kills, but visiting Central Washington recovered in the final set Saturday for a 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 15-9 volleyball victory at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves (7-2, 1-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also got 11 kills and three block assists from senior Tara Melton as they suffered their first home loss in five matches this year.
The Wildcats (8-1, 2-0) were led by 16 kills on .419 hitting from Sara Joffs, plus seven kills on match-high .538 hitting and nine total blocks from Julia Mellander. Setter Gabrielle Aihara finished with 46 assists and five digs to help the visitors from Ellensburg snap a four-match losing streak in Anchorage.
“We got off to a slow start and that hurt us,” said UAA head coach Chris Green. “We were just too inefficient offensively against a team of that caliber, and they were able to take advantage of our mistakes, to their credit.”
Central’s victory was made possible by a huge rally to end the first set, erasing a 21-18 deficit with seven straight points.
Eve Stephens smashed one of her 12 kills to bring UAA within 20-19 late in the second set, but the Wildcats ended strong again, with Joffs collecting three kills in a clinching 6-1 run.
A sweep seemed imminent when another Joffs kill put Central ahead 22-19 in the third, however the Seawolves would rally to forge ties at 22-22 and 23-23. Boyer blasted a kill on a feed from libero Anjoilyn Vreeland to gain the advantage, and the Oregon native made a nice midair adjustment to collect another kill on set point.
UAA led throughout the fourth set, although the Wildcats kept it close the entire way, pulling within 22-21 on a kill from Makala Swart. Melton answered with a kill for the Seawolves, and Taylor Noga tied the match with one of her own moments later.
The Seawolves’ momentum would not last despite a season-high crowd of 1,144, as the hosts trailed from start to finish in the fifth set. Chrisalyn Johnson drew UAA within 8-6 with one of her nine kills, but Central pulled away late, outhitting the Seawolves .400 to .150 in the final frame.
Vreeland posted a career- and UAA season-high 29 digs in the loss, while Noga – a senior playing in her 106th match – also had a career high in digs with 25.
The nation’s No. 2 blocking team entering the match, UAA was outblocked 14-7.
The Seawolves conclude a three-match homestand Tuesday against rival Alaska Fairbanks (2-7, 0-2) at 7 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center. Call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com for tickets.