UAA Volleyball ends regular season sweep of Seattle University of the Pacific in dominant fashion
The first time the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of the Pacific Seattle volleyball teams faced off this season, the Falcons gave the Seawolves everything they could handle in a game which took place on the wire in five sets.
That game took place last month in Washington, but the second and final meeting between the two Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents took place in the final frontier on Thursday night and wasn’t quite as close. UAA swept SPU 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-13) at Alaska Airlines Center to maintain an undefeated conference record.
“The competition is really high, so you always come out ready for battle,” said UAA star outside striker Eve Stephens. “Winning three and getting it over with is really good because it’s all our hard work.”
The Seawolves’ victory completed a regular season sweep of their conference foes, extended the UAA’s impressive winning streak to 12 games while snapping the Falcons’ winning streak to five games.
“They had been on a hot streak the last two games, so they were really on top,” said UAA standout setter Ellen Floyd. “Coming out and stopping immediately was a very important step for us in that first set, and then it was all easy from there.”
The Seawolves’ frontcourt was an absolute brick wall, shutting down their opponents with a 22-assist landslide to just two by the Falcons. Their excellent serve was also a major key to their victory.
“We kept their offense from really getting on track and when they got a good pass we had a good blocking night,” UAA coach Chris Green said. “We didn’t see what we saw in Seattle because of our harder serve and because we blocked even better than we did (in that game).”
The Seawolves trailed Stephens and Floyd in a quick victory in which they controlled the game from start to finish. Stephens finished top of the team in kills with 13 and tied fellow senior Talia Leauanae for the lead in aces with three.
“Being in the front row trying to block is a lot easier when you have a hard serve and I think we served really well tonight,” Stephens said. “We really only had to focus on two hitters at a time.”
Floyd recorded a double-double leading the team with 24 assists and 11 digs. She also had five decisive wins and was a playground with a season-high five blocks overall, including the team’s only solo block.
“When they’re up front, the other team has to worry about their second-contact offense and that opens up our hitters a bit,” Green said. “She distributed the ball well and made good defensive plays.”
Floyd literally put everything on the line for the Seawolves in the GNAC showdown. She nearly knocked over the media table in a diving attempt to keep the ball in play during the second set.
“When we have a hard serve it really helps because it helps us focus on who is going to receive the ball on the other side and then we can suppress it,” Floyd said.
UAA is now the ninth team in the country, the home fans in attendance were loud and proud and provided UAA with plenty of energy and support to feed themselves.
“It’s always nice to play at home,” Green said. “I think the crowd always helps us. I don’t know how many people were here, but it was loud at times.
Stephens admitted that the pressure of performing in front of local audiences can sometimes be a little “agonizing”, but likes the “constant support” they receive.
“They’re like an extension of our team,” Floyd said. “We have six on the pitch, but we have more than that because we have the whole fanbase supporting us, which is really nice. You feel the support on the pitch as well as off the pitch.
Green believes the resounding win will give the team even more confidence heading into the second half of its round-robin conference schedule with another GNAC coming to town Saturday at Montana State Billings.
“We just have to keep improving as the season progresses and hopefully we improve as fast or faster than our opponents,” he said.