Playing in front of a record crowd Saturday night, the UAA volleyball team tied a school record for consecutive home-court victories by turning back a scrappy UAF team in five sets.
Freshman Sarah Johnson's 24 kills and 24 digs fueled a huge UAA comeback. The Seawolves dropped the first two sets before rallying for a 22-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-10 victory.
A crowd of 884 nearly filled the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, setting a school record for the biggest audience for a volleyball match.
The fans saw a masterful game from Johnson, as the 6-foot-1 South High graduate made only four errors on 54 attack attempts for a .370 attack percentage.
UAA hit an impressive .258 as a team and got double-figure kills from three other players -- Katelynn Zanders (14), Julia Mackey (13) and Jodi Huddleston (12). Kimya Jafroudi handed out 59 assists.
"Our team really responded well to adversity tonight," UAA coach Chris Green said. "I was pleased to see how we kept our poise throughout the match, especially our freshmen. We got great senior leadership from Kimya and Nikkie Viotto and Sarah Johnson was a real workhorse for us."
UAF got a great match from Sam Harthun, who matched Johnson in kills with 24. Allison Oddy came up with 37 of UAF's 87 digs.
UAA racked up 91 digs, with four joining Johnson in double figures -- Siobhan Johansen (16), Viotto (15), Jafroudi (12) and Jordan Bush (10).
The crowd broke the previous attendance record of 821, recorded at a 2003 match againts the rival Nanooks. The 15 straight victories matched the accomplishment set by the 1987 and 1988 clubs.
UAA improved to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The loss was the ninth straight for the Nanooks (2-9, 0-5).
Johnson was never better than in the third set, when she posted seven kills on .500 hitting to keep the Seawolves alive. In the fourth set, Mackey came up with five kills to help the Seawolves force a fifth set. There, UAA took control early and never trailed.
The Seawolves won the blocking battle, 11-5. Maureen Sabado had a match-high eight blocks, one of them a solo effort, and Zanders and Mackey each added four.
UAA remains at home this week for a pair of GNAC matches, including one against nationally ranked Western Washington on Saturday. Simon Fraser comes to town Thursday.
Anchorage Daily News