UAF visits add a little extra fuel to the fire

Jeremy Peters

The UAA volleyball team doesn't try to hype its rivalry with UAF, but showdowns between the two Alaska schools tend to draw an enthusiastic crowd anyway.

"It's always a big game," UAA junior libero Siobhan Johansen said. "The crowd's always so loud and energetic. Everyone comes because it's UAF."

When UAA (8-4, 3-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) battles UAF (2-8, 0-4 GNAC) at Wells Fargo Sports Complex on Saturday at 7 p.m., the rivalry might get an extra emotional boost. Seven of UAA's 11 players are from Alaska.

"We have so many Alaska kids on the roster, it means maybe more than it has in the past, when we didn't have as many Alaska kids on the roster," said UAA coach Chris Green.

UAA owns the edge in the all-time series with a 58-34 record. The Seawolves have won five of the last six meetings, but lost five straight matches to UAF between 2006 and 2008.

UAF, which has three Alaskans among its 13 players, comes to town with an eight-match losing streak during which the Nanooks have lost 24 of 28 sets.

UAA's only GNAC loss, to Western Oregon, came during the team's first conference road trip last week. The Seawolves made too many mistakes, Green said, but they've had a full week to prepare for UAF.

"I think they're excited," Green said Friday. "The last two days have been good practices, so hopefully that will carry over to tomorrow."

A win would mark UAA's 15th straight at home and would tie the school record for consecutive home victories. But once the first serve is in the air Saturday, the Seawolves will treat the match like any other, Green said.

"We're not counting," he said.

Johansen, who is from Palmer, said playing well at home is more important, because the stands are always filled with people the Seawolves know.

"We have our parents, families and friends come support us, so we definitely want to give them a win," she said.

Reach Jeremy Peters at jpeters@adn.com or 257-4335.


By JEREMY PETERS
Anchorage Daily News