ANCHORAGE (Sept. 29) – Senior middle blocker Tara Melton smashed 13 kills on .550 hitting and senior libero Taylor Noga had a career-high 26 digs Saturday to propel the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team to a 25-16, 24-26, 25-22, 26-24 victory over Western Oregon at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Junior outside hitter Vanessa Boyer contributed a match-high 14 kills for the Seawolves (13-3, 6-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference), who defeated WOU for the 11th consecutive time and took sole possession of third place in the league standings.
The Wolves (5-10, 2-6) got 11 kills from Marlie Norman and 10 kills on .500 hitting from Sianna DeCarli, but the visitors from Monmouth could not hold a 19-13 lead in the fourth set and lost for the fifth time in six matches.
“Our block has been our strong suit all season and tonight was no different,” said UAA head coach Chris Green. “Once we established that presence at the net, we were able to turn that fourth set around and escape with the win. Our passing needs to be a lot better, although we made some really outstanding defensive plays tonight. Taylor Noga was all over the court, and CJ (Chrisalyn Johnson) came through with some clutch serving and timely kills.”
The Seawolves hit .350 as they breezed through the first set, but the Wolves controlled the second and fought off a late UAA run to score the last two points and tie the match.
Trailing 7-6 in the third, the Seawolves used a 6-1 surge – highlighted by a pair of Johnson kills – to take the lead for good. Norman drew the Wolves within 24-22 with a kill, but UAA took the frame on a dump kill by setter Ellen Floyd.
After struggling through much of the fourth, Melton converted a pass from Floyd, and sophomore Vera Pluharova delivered three straight block assists to spark a six-point run that tied it at 19-19. UAA turned a 22-21 deficit into a 24-22 lead on consecutive kills from Eve Stephens, Melton and Johnson, before WOU tied it on back-to-back spikes from Jenna Compton and Morgan Haskett.
Stephens would answer with her 12th kill, however, and sophomore Anjoilyn Vreeland delivered an ace on UAA’s third try at match point. The Seawolves hit .344 without and attack error in the fourth and outblocked the Wolves 5-0.
Despite wearing the libero jersey for just three of Saturday’s four sets, Noga topped her previous career high of 25 digs from a 3-2 loss to Central Washington on Sept. 8. The former East Anchorage High School standout also passed Seawolf Hall of Famer Jen Szczerbinski (1988-90, 92) for third place on the Seawolf program’s all-time victories list with 93.
Meanwhile, Melton and Boyer each finished just one kill shy of their respective career highs, with Melton committing only two attack errors on 20 swings. Johnson tied her career bests with four aces and no service errors, along with her first 20-dig effort of 2018.
Floyd finished with 35 assists, four kills and 12 digs, and Pluharova continued her recent strong play with three kills and no attack errors on 10 swings, a match-high seven block assists, and the first two-assist match of her career.
The Seawolves return the road to finish the first half of the GNAC campaign next week, starting with Thursday at 6 p.m. ADT against Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Wash. Tune in to the live video stream at gnac.tv.