ANCHORAGE – Chrisalyn Johnson and Vanessa Boyer paced a balanced offense and Alaska Anchorage used a huge first-set comeback to secure a 26-24, 25-17, 25-15 sweep of Northwest Nazarene on Thursday in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball opener for both teams.
The Seawolves (7-1, 1-0 GNAC) got nine kills from both outside hitters, while middle blockers Tara Melton and Eve Stephens ripped eight kills apiece. Johnson added a team-best 19 digs, barely missing her fifth double-double of the year.
The Nighthawks (0-8, 0-1) were led by match-highs of 14 kills from outside hitter Abbey Blum and 23 digs from libero Shayli Siegfreid, but the visitors from Nampa, Idaho, were outhit .241 to .108 and outblocked 10-1.
“I was disappointed in the way we started tonight, but we showed the type of volleyball we are capable of playing in the last two sets, and we were more successful once we regained our aggression,” said UAA head coach Chris Green, who improved to 14-8 against the NNU. “Our balance really showed tonight, with five players between seven and nine kills, and that’s another positive sign.”
A sweep seemed highly unlikely when NNU got a kill from Kayla Sale to take a 23-19 lead in the opening set. Senior Taylor Noga responded with back-to-back kills for the Seawolves, however, and added another following a Nighthawks timeout. Noga and Stephens then blocked Sale on consecutive points to take a 24-23 advantage and, after Lexi Ward tied it temporarily with a kill, the Seawolves closed out the comeback with a kill by Boyer and an attack error by NNU.
Trailing 14-12 in the second set, UAA got three kills from Johnson during a 7-0 spurt, and Stephens ripped three more during as the Seawolves took six of the final nine rallies.
UAA led from start to finish in the third set, outhitting the visitors .319 to .130 in the clincher.
Melton recorded a match-high .467 attack percentage as she, Stephens and Boyer committed only one attack error each, and Johnson had only two. Freshman Ellen Floyd had 21 assists and nine digs, and sophomore Casey Davenport dished 18 digs and made 12 digs as UAA setting combo had one of its most efficient efforts thus far.
Melton led UAA with six block assists, while Stephens and sophomore Vera Pluharova tallied five apiece.
The Seawolves return to the Alaska Airlines Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. when they face a crucial early test against fellow 2017 NCAA Tournament qualifier Central Washington (7-1, 1-0). Call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com or AlaskaAirlinesCenter.com for tickets.