ANCHORAGE – Junior outside hitter Leah Swiss propelled a big 3rd-set comeback and finished with a near-flawless hitting performance Tuesday to help the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team earn a 25-15, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18 victory over Alaska Fairbanks at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves (19-9, 14-5 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) got 22 kills on .447 hitting, nine digs and two block assists from Swiss, who committed her first and only attack error on the penultimate point of the match.
Junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson added 14 kills and 12 digs for her 11th double-double this year, while senior libero Keala Kaio-Perez delivered match-highs of 24 digs and five aces, along with five assists.
The Nanooks (11-17, 4-15) were led by 15 kills and from outside hitter Maddie Davis, plus 11 kills and four total blocks from middle blocker Kim Wong, but the visitors were unable to hold on to a 23-19 lead in the third set.
After UAA called timeout trailing 22-19 in the third, Wong smashed a kill to extend UAF’s lead and cap a 13-6 run for her team. A kill by Tara Melton stopped the visitors’ momentum, however, and an ace by Kaio-Perez and a kill from Swiss tied it 23-23. Swiss came through on the next two points as well, teaming with Vanessa Hayes to stuff Markie Miller’s spike attempt, then ripping her sixth kill of the frame to clinch it.
“It was a great comeback in set 3,” said UAA head coach Chris Green, whose team earned its seventh straight season sweep of its intrastate rival. “If it hadn’t been for a couple long-rally wins during that 6-0 run, we might still be playing. Leah was incredible all night, especially when we needed her most. She showed tonight why she is a true All-American.”
Melton’s effort was also vital to the Seawolves’ victory, with seven kills on match-high .462 hitting and a team-high four total blocks. Senior right-side hitter Anais Vargas notched five kills on .250 hitting, while freshman setter Casey Davenport finished with 45 assists, four kills and 12 digs.
The Seawolves – No. 9 in the most recent NCAA Div. II West Region rankings – conclude the regular-season with a 7 p.m. contest Thursday against Montana State Billings (8-20, 4-14) at the Alaska Airlines Center. Senior Night festivities will precede the match, honoring Kaio-Perez and Vargas. For ticket information, visit GoSeawolves.com or call 907-786-1562.
NOTES: Kaio-Perez tied her career high with five aces and surpassed Swiss for the GNAC lead in that category, now with 0.49 aces per set … with 56 total aces, Kaio-Perez moved into third place on UAA’s single-season list and is now just three shy of tying O’Lita McWilliams’s program record of 59 aces in 2003 … now with 606 digs, Kaio-Perez also became just the third Seawolf to tally at least 600 in a season and passed Jen Szczerbinski (604 digs in 1990) for second place on that list … pushing her career total to 1,134 career kills, Swiss passed former teammate Julia Mackey (1,130, 2012-15) for fifth and tied Jackie Matthisen (2009-11) for fourth place on the program’s all-time list … Swiss also caught Tracy Zink (1987-90) for the 5th-most victories in program history with 81, while junior defensive specialist Taylor Noga (6 kills, 1 ace) now stands with 80 wins in Green & Gold … UAA will try to extend a 15-match series win streak when it faces MSU Billings on Thursday.