SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson had 15 kills to help earn a fifth set, but it wasn’t enough Friday morning as the nationally 4th-ranked Alaska Anchorage volleyball team lost its season opener against UC San Diego, 25-14, 11-25, 25-18, 20-25, 15-10, at the Seaside Invitational at Golden Gymnasium.
The two-time defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions and 2016 NCAA Div. II runners-up Seawolves also got 13 kills, 16 digs and three aces from GNAC Preseason Player of the Year Leah Swiss as they lost their first September match since 2014.
Outside hitter Amanda Colla notched a match-high 18 kills on .273 hitting for UCSD, which was playing just a short drive from its campus in La Jolla. Jessica Rieble added seven kills, six digs and four blocks for the Tritons, who improved to 4-0 all-time against UAA.
Playing from behind most of the match, the Seawolves rallied from a 14-11 deficit in the fourth set when sophomore right-side hitter Diana Fa’amausili ripped two of her 11 kills during a 4-0 spurt. Hanging onto a 21-20 advantage late in the frame, Johnson delivered a rocket down the middle to regain control, and another moments later to earn set point.
UAA led briefly in the fifth set before UCSD earned a 7-5 lead on back-to-back kills from Marie Paris and Colla. An ace by Johnson drew the Seawolves within 12-9 in the late-going, but the California Collegiate Athletic Association squad would pull away and claim match point on an ace.
Senior libero Keala Kaio-Perez had career highs of 18 digs and five aces for UAA, while senior outside hitter Anais Vargas had a career-high six kills. Both players missed the second half of last season with injuries.
Running a two-setter system, the Seawolves got a combined 44 assists and 11 digs from sophomore Madison Fisher and freshman Casey Davenport, who were each seeing the first extended action of their respective collegiate careers.
Sophomore middle blocker Vanessa Hayes notched four kills, four block assists and her first career ace for UAA, which retakes the court for its second match of the day at 2:30 p.m. ADT to face host school Point Loma. Free live stats and pay-per-view video are available at portal.stretchinternet.com/plnu.
NOTES: The Seawolves lost in September for the first time since a 3-1 loss to Northwest Nazarene on Sept. 25, 2014, snapping a 26-match streak … combined with its loss to No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul in the 2016 National Title Match, UAA has now lost two straight matches for the first time since the final two contests of 2014 … Swiss’s double-double was the 23rd of her career as the former Dimond High star passed former teammate Erin Braun (762 kills, 2013-16) for No. 14 on UAA’s career kills with 770.