Falcons Are Hot: SPU Volleyball Named Team of the Week
Seattle Pacific took wins over Northwest Nazarene and No. 15 Central Washington to earn Team of the Week honors. SPU is the only remaining undefeated team in GNAC play. | Photo by Rio Giancarlo
Seattle Pacific took wins over Northwest Nazarene and No. 15 Central Washington to earn Team of the Week honors. SPU is the only remaining undefeated team in GNAC play. | Photo by Rio Giancarlo

Monday, September 25, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Falcons were flying high last week as Seattle Pacific volleyball defeated Northwest Nazarene and No. 15 Central Washington to extend the team’s nine-game winning streak and earn GNAC Team of the Week recognition.

Seattle Pacific opened the second week of conference play by sweeping Northwest Nazarene, 3-0, on Thursday. It was a dominant defensive performance from the Falcons as they limited the Nighthawks to just a .057 hitting percentage and only allowed NNU to reach the 20-point mark in the first set. Seattle Pacific took straight sets with scores of 25-20, 25-17 and 25-17 to secure the win.

Senior outside hitter Sarah Brachvogel led SPU to victory over the Nighthawks with a double-double of 16 kills and 10 digs. Brachvogel also chipped in three blocks and two aces while hitting .448 for her most efficient performance of the season. Her 16 kills and 20 points were also her second-best match totals of 2023.

Junio libero Abigail Cunningham was the top defensive player for the Falcons against NNU and was the only player on the team with more digs than Brachvogel. Cunningham finished the match with 11 digs, five assists and an ace.

Read More: Big on the Hit, Big on the Block, Big Win (SPU Recap)

On Saturday, Seattle Pacific gritted out a 3-2 win over arguably its toughest opponent of the season so far in No. 15 Central Washington. After dropping the first set of the match 25-12, the Falcons came roaring back to win the second set 25-23 and the third set 25-16. The Wildcats rallied to take the fourth set 25-14 and force a set-five that SPU took 18-16 after overcoming an early 4-0 deficit.

The Falcons had three players notch double-digit kills led by senior middle blocker Erin Smith with 13. Smith also added two blocks, an assist and a dig. Brachvogel and senior opposite Maddie Pruden both followed Smith in double-digit scoring with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Brachvogel also finished with seven digs, three blocks, two aces and two assists while Pruden added three digs and three blocks.

Defensively, SPU was led by freshman setter Sophia Chambers with a double-double of 16 digs and 16 assists. Chambers also added one kill for good measure. The final blow was delivered by Cunningham on an ace to secure the win and move Seattle Pacific to 11-2 overall (4-0 GNAC). The Falcons are now 2-0 this season in five-set matches and the only remaining team undefeated in non-conference play.

Read More: Another 5-Setter Goes SPU's Way (SPU Recap)

Head coach Jason Rhine points to the team’s flexibility and preparation in playing their matches last week as key strength.

“What stands out to me is we approached both matches really well,” Rhine said. “We came in with a good balance of energy and poise and played two different styles of matches. But in both cases I thought we performed well and our team did a great job of preparing and being ready for each match, just coming in and being ready to go.”

With an Alaska road trip on the docket this week, Rhine is keeping the team focused on the immediate future as the Flacons get set to play the Nanooks (7-10, 0-3 GNAC) on Thursday and the Seawolves (9-9, 1-2 GNAC) on Saturday.

“In the GNAC it’s one match at a time,” Rhine said. “We’re happy to come out with two wins last week. Now we have to turn around and take a tough trip to Alaska. We’re excited to be going up there off wins, but it’s just going to be another hill of battles and some tough travel so we’re ready to face a new challenge.”