The UAA volleyball team's season came to an end Thursday in San Bernardino, Calif., where BYU-Hawaii swept the Seawolves in the first round of the NCAA Division II West Region Volleyball championships.
Seventh-seeded UAA started strong in the first set, but fell 25-19, 25-19, 25-17 in the first postseason meeting between the schools.
UAA, which finished with a 21-10 record and was second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, was making its fourth NCAA tournament appearance in five seasons.
"I'm very proud of what we accomplished throughout the season," said UAA coach Chris Green.
"I saw big improvement from our pre-conference (schedule) to our conference. This group of girls worked their tails off."
The Seawolves swept three straight opponents to close the regular season nearly two weeks ago and if they had maintained that high level of play Thursday, Green said the season might not be over.
"Win or lose, I wish it would have ended a little better," Green said. "We just didn't play like I had seen us play two weeks ago. Offensively, we didn't play well enough to compete."
The Seawolves held leads of 5-2 and 12-9 in the first set, but the second-seeded Seasiders took control with a 7-0 run. The score was tied 17-17 in the second set, before BYU-Hawaii took eight of the last 10 points. Momentum remained with the Seasiders throughout the third set.
Sophomore outside hitter Katelynn Zanders led the UAA attack with eight kills and Brooke Pottle hit for seven. Senior setter Siobhan Johanson dished 16 assists to go with five kills and a team-best .600 hitting percentage.
Senior middle blocker Jodi Huddleston pitched in with two kills on four attempts, and junior hitter Maureen Sabado nailed five kills on .444 hitting.
Sophomore all-conference hitter Julia Mackey, who missed the last nine UAA regular-season matches with a knee injury, returned to limited action Thursday. Recording one kill, Mackey was a little rusty, Green said, but didn't experience any pain with the knee.
"She's just right on the edge of being good to go," he said.
BYU-Hawaii, the fourth-ranked Division II team in the nation and Pacific West Conference champions, improved to 25-1 with its 18th straight win. Setter Michelle Chen, the reigning two-time West Region player of the year, handed out 39 of the Seasiders' 41 assists and Stella Chen struck for a match-high 14 kills. BYU-Hawaii outhit UAA .383 to .172.
The Seasiders weren't particularly sharp, Green said, but UAA couldn't take advantage of their mistakes in what he called a somewhat sloppy match.
BYU-Hawaii, which is now 8-1 all time against UAA, will face UC San Diego in Friday's regional semifinals.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.