LACEY, Wash. – Middle blocker Tara Melton delivered her best performance as a Seawolf and outside hitter Leah Swiss tallied 13 kills and 11 digs Saturday to lead the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team to its fourth straight victory, 19-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17, over Saint Martin’s at Marcus Pavilion.
The Seawolves (14-7, 9-3 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) got double-digit kills from four players and a match-high 24 digs from senior libero Keala Kaio-Perez as they overcame an early hiccup to extend the program record to 20 consecutive wins over the Saints.
SMU (8-12, 3-9) got eight kills apiece from Rebecca Mitchell and Megan Vernoy to help the hosts end a 30-set losing skid against UAA in the opening frame, but the Seawolves won the hitting battle .322 to .037 in the final three sets.
A transfer from Glendale (Ariz.) College, Melton had a career-high 10 kills and a match-best four total blocks, including a big solo against Emily Gooding to thwart a Saints rally late in the fourth set. The junior’s .692 attack percentage was 92 points better than UAA’s previous best this season.
Junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson joined Swiss with a double-double, notching 11 kills and 13 digs, while sophomore middle blocker Vanessa Hayes had double-digit kills for the third time in four matches with 10.
Freshman setter Casey Davenport continued her solid all-around play with 42 assists, two aces, six kills, and no service or attack errors. From nearby Auburn, Wash., Davenport’s tied her season-high in kills for the third time, while her .545 attack percentage was her second-best of the season.
“We looked slow at the outset tonight, but we started playing our kind of volleyball about midway thought the second set and continued for the rest of the match,” said UAA head coach Chris Green, whose team improved to 6-2 in GNAC road play. “Casey did a nice job of distributing the ball among our hitters and keeping SMU off balance, and she used great judgment when choosing to attack.”
Junior defensive specialist Taylor Noga helped spark the comeback with three aces, along with 10 digs and two assists.
With six of their final eight matches at home, the Seawolves remain in fourth place but stand only two matches back of GNAC co-leaders Northwest Nazarene (19-1, 11-1) and Western Washington (17-3, 11-1), and one match behind their next opponent, Central Washington (15-5, 10-2). The Seawolves and Wildcats play Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. ADT at the Alaska Airlines Center, followed by a Saturday showdown against NNU.
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NOTES: UAA lost its first set to the Saints since dropping the opening frame in a 3-1 victory, Oct. 18, 2012 in Anchorage … the Saints had not won a set at home against UAA since their last overall victory in the series, a 3-0 sweep on Nov. 1, 2007 … two nights reaching the 1,000 plateau, Swiss moved up to No. 6 on UAA’s career kills list, surpassing Brianne McCabe (1,024 kills, 1999-2002) with her final swing of the night … Swiss’s double-double was her 10th this season and 31st of her career, while Johnson notched her fifth double-double in the last six matches … Kaio-Perez earned her second kill of the season and third of her career.