ANCHORAGE – Freshman Eve Stephens had 14 kills and senior Chrisalyn Johnson notched 13 kills and four aces in her final home match Saturday to lift the Alaska Anchorage volleyball team to a 25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 25-10 victory over Saint Martin’s at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Seawolves (20-6, 13-5 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) also used 21 digs from senior libero Taylor Noga to help extend their program-record win streak to 22 in a row against the visitors from Lacey, Wash.
The Saints (4-20, 2-16) got nine kills apiece from Ililani Kamaka, Rachel Gondrezick and Megan Vernoy as they managed to take their first set against UAA for the first time in five trips to the Alaska Airlines Center.
“It wasn’t very pretty tonight, but we got the win, and we have a great chance to help ourselves next week,” said UAA head coach Chris Green, whose team drew within one match of their upcoming opponent, Central Washington, for second place in the GNAC standings.
UAA – ranked No. 7 in the NCAA Div. II West Region – may have been forced the distance against the last-place Saints, had it not been for a late comeback in the first set. Trailing 22-19, Green called a timeout and his team responded with a thundering kill down the middle by Stephens. The Seawolves tied it 23-23 on Johnson’s first kill of the evening, and took the last two rallies on a kill by Tara Melton and an attack error by Gondrezick.
The Seawolves held the Saints to a .062 attack percentage to easily take the second set, but a 20-19 lead to would go by the wayside in the third, with Saint Martin’s scoring the final six points of that frame.
Despite hiccup, UAA recovered quickly, streaking to a 10-2 lead in the fourth. Three straight Johnson aces made it 15-3, and the Seawolves outhit the visitors .476 to -.150 in the final set.
Melton and Vanessa Boyer totaled nine kills apiece, and sophomore middle blocker Vera Pluharova equaled and topped her career highs with eight kills on .583 hitting. Stephens hit .458, while Melton had six total blocks and Pluharova five total blocks.
Boyer also matched a career best with 12 digs, barely missing her second career double-double.
Meanwhile, Noga, who entered the match No. 7 on UAA’s career digs list, finished her home career by notching her 100th victory in a Seawolf uniform. With one more win she would tie former teammate Morgan Hooe (2013-16) for No. 2 on the program’s all-time list.
Needing wins to keep up in the NCAA Tournament race, the Seawolves finish with road matches at GNAC rivals Central Washington on Thursday, Nov. 8 (6 p.m. AST) and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Nov. 10 (11 a.m. AST). Both matches can be seen live on gnac.tv.
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