UAA volleyball coach Chris Green said he didn't work any magic during the timeout he called late in the second set of Thursday night's match in Billings, Mont. But the break in action worked, keeping alive UAA's postseason hopes while ensuring another 20-win season for Green and the Seawolves.
The streaking Seawolves rallied to score the final six points of the set en route to a 25-17, 25-23, 25-18 victory over Montana State-Billings in their penultimate match of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference season.
Billings led 23-19 and was looking at tying the match at one set apiece when Green called timeout, hoping to cool off the Yellowjackets, fire up the Seawolves, or both.
"The pressure was on. We had to keep the ball in play and win some points," he said. "I wanted to make them take a deep breath, refocus, relax and go see what they can do. Calm themselves and go play."
The Seawolves did just that, scoring two points on kills from Katelynn Zanders and another on Billings' ball-handling error to force the Yellowjackets, clinging to a 23-22 lead, to call their own timeout.
It didn't matter. UAA scored the final three points on a kill from Erin Braun and two blocks by Zanders and Braun to set the scene for its eighth straight victory.
"That was huge," Green said. "If they win that second game, we might still be playing."
UAA kept things going in the third set, scoring the first seven points, two of them on aces by Quinn Barker.
With the win, UAA moves to 14-3 in the GNAC and 20-9 overall. It's the second time UAA has reached the 20-win milestone since Green became coach in 2008 and the ninth time in school history.
Heading into Saturday's regular-season finale at Seattle Pacific, the Seawolves are guaranteed no worse than a second-place tie in the GNAC. And even if they lose, Green thinks they still have a shot at making the eight-team NCAA Divison II West Region playoffs. UAA is ranked seventh in the region.
"There's a chance we could lose and still be in it," he said. "A win, I think, would guarantee us a spot in the field."
Zanders, a sophomore from Anchorage, racked up 19 kills and 10 digs to lead the Seawolves. It was her 13th double-double of the season and her seventh in the last eight matches. In two seasons, the South High grad has soared to No. 17 on UAA's career kills list with 647.
UAA for the first time this season went with a 5-1 offense due to the absence of setter Morgan Hooe, who is sick. Siobhan Johansen, working as the lone setter, handed out 37 assists to pace the offense.
Brooke Pottle contributed 10 digs, seven kills and a career-high four aces, Barker added 11 digs and Jodi Huddleston ripped six kills.
Monica Grimsrud's 13 kills led Billings (6-20, 3-14).
Reach Beth Bragg at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG