UAA Takes Team Of The Week With Historic Run
The Seawolves reached their first ever NCAA championship match with a 34-win season.
The Seawolves reached their first ever NCAA championship match with a 34-win season.

Monday, December 12, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2016 GNAC fall season began and ends with the same team earning Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week. Alaska Anchorage volleyball made a memorable playoff run with five wins in a row to reach the program’s first NCAA Division II championship match to take home the Team of the Week honor.

The Seawolves started the year with an attention-grabbing performance at the D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase, but that proved to only be the tip of the Alaskan iceberg that went to Sioux Falls, S.D. last week for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight as the West Region champion.

“It’s amazing to make the championship match,” AVCA Coach of the Year Chris Green said. “We have steadily gotten better over the last four years, so it’s great to take a program to the national championship. We still have a young team and we’ve learned what it takes to be a national champion.”

Seeded No. 6, UAA began its first trip to the Elite Eight against No. 3 Angelo State. Despite a .345 attack percentage, Alaska Anchorage dropped the first set 25-14. The Seawolves, however, bounced back quickly to grab the second set, never trailing in the frame.

In the third set, the Seawolves got four kills in the span of five points by Chrisalyn Johnson to take a 12-4 lead, but Angelo State fought back to even the score and even earn a set point. The Seawolves won the next three points though, getting two clutch kills and a block assist by Diana Fa’amausili to take a 2-1 lead. In the fourth set, the Seawolves went on a 7-0 run early thanks to four consecutive kills by Leah Swiss and never let go of the lead to grab a 3-1 victory.

“We started playing a lot better in the last three sets,” Green said. “It ended up being a battle. The first game was a little bit rough, but our two left-side hitters did a great job. They had struggled a little bit in the West Regional final, but they stepped up against Angelo State and were amazing against a really good defense.”

The next day, the Seawolves faced No. 2 Palm Beach Atlantic and again split the first two sets. Fa’amausili broke open a tight third set with five kills and a block assist during a set-winning 9-3 run. Alaska Anchorage had runs of five and eight points early in the fourth set to seemingly wrap up the match, but the No. 2 seed pulled within one point late in the set. The Seawolves forced an attack error and then, on match point, Johnson smashed the kill that sent the Seawolves to the championship match.

“In the second game Palm Beach Atlantic came out on fire, but we fought back and we pushed back,” Green said. “I thought the third set was some of the best volleyball we’ve played as a Seawolf team. That’s what you want to see at the end of the year is see the team play the best we’ve played so far.”

The Seawolves ran into the No. 1 team in the nation, Concordia-St. Paul, in the championship match, falling 3-0 to the top seed which won its eighth national championship in the last 10 years. Alaska Anchorage finished the 2016 season with a 34-3 record, crushing the previous GNAC record of 27 for most wins in a single season set by UAA and Western Washington the previous season.

Over the weekend, D2CCA West Region Player of the Year Morgan Hooe totaled 117 assists and 40 digs in the 11 sets played. Swiss added 41 kills, 39 digs and five blocks while Johnson tallied 37 kills and 30 digs in the two victories. Senior middle blocker Erin Braun registered 11 blocks in the tournament and finished just five blocks away from the all-time GNAC record for career blocks. Hooe and Johnson both earned all-tournament recognition.