UAA drops volleyball opener to No. 5 BYU-Hawaii

Beth Bragg

Hitting errors doomed the UAA volleyball team Thursday night in Hawaii, where the Seawolves had hoped to open the season with authority, if not an upset.

BYU-Hawaii, the fifth-ranked NCAA Division II team in the nation with two All-Americans back from last year's national semifinal team, ruined those plans. The Seasiders swept the Seawolves 25-22, 25-17, 25-18, benefitting from UAA's poor offensive performance.

The Seasiders were in the crosshairs in every set, but UAA misfired too many times.

The Seawolves posted a team attack percentage of .062 by totaling 26 errors against 33 kills. Their bid to win the first game was derailed when, with the score tied 20-20, the Seawolves made four straight hitting errors to put BYU in command. The stretch helped define the match.

"We had a chance, we just made way too many errors," UAA coach Chris Green said. "We were hoping some of those errors would go away. That just wasn't us."

Gone from last year's 16-10 team is veteran setter Kimya Jafroudi, and Green said he's still figuring out how to replace her. He went with a 6-2 offense in the first set, rotating senior setter Siobhan Johansen with freshman setter Morgan Hooe, and switched to a 5-1 offense for the second and third sets, with Johansen setting and Hooe playing defense.

"We'll probably experiment tomorrow too," he said. "We want to figure it out."

But setting wasn't the source of the offensive struggles; Green noted that when set location was poor, the Seawolves often won the point anyway.

"The hitters are at a point where they've got to figure it out," Green said. "Our hitters need to learn to keep the ball in play, there were too many silly errors with good sets."

Katelynn Zanders, a sophomore from South High and one of the team's most potent hitters, drew BYU's attention and paid the price -- a team-high nine kills, but also a team-high 11 errors for a minus-.059 attack percentage.

Julia Mackey, a sophomore from West Valley, led the Seawolves with 12 kills and a .269 attack percentage. Brooke Pottle, a junior transfer from Glendale (Ariz.) Community College, had eight kills in her debut and had a .167 attack percentage.

Johansen finished with 29 assists and Quinn Barker contributed 17 digs.

BYU -- the defending West Region champion -- got a stellar performance from All-American junior Stella Chen, a two-time Pac West Conference player of the year. Chen ripped 12 kills, made only two errors on 28 attempts for a .357 attack percentage and totaled 15 digs.

Michelle Chen, BYU's other All-American, dished out 27 assists.

The match was the first of three in Hawaii for the Seawolves, who play Chaminade at 9 p.m. ADT Friday and Hawaii-Hilo at 3 p.m. Saturday.

UAA makes its home debut next week in the three-day SpringHill Suites Invitational.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.