Three matches into the volleyball season, the Seawolves are undefeated and Taylor Noga is killing it.
Really killing it.
A defensive specialist for the majority of her first three seasons at UAA, the East High alum revealed her offensive side Saturday night in front of an Alaska Airlines Center crowd of 986.
Noga slammed double-digit kills for the first time in her career to help the Seawolves fend off Michigan Tech in five sets in the final match of the UAA Invitational.
The 2-hour, 40-minute match was UAA's first big test of the year. The victory made the Seawolves the only undefeated team in the five-team tournament — they were 3-0, Tech was 3-1, UAF 2-1, Western New Mexico 1-3 and Barton College 0-4.
Noga enjoyed career highs in kills (13) and digs (21) and teammate Chrisalyn Johnson delivered 11 kills, 14 digs and three aces to power UAA's tense 28-26, 25-22, 20-25, 24-26, 15-11 victory over Michigan Tech.
Johnson, who registered double-doubles in two straight matches, garnered the Most Outstanding Player award and Noga earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
"C.J. was terrific for us all weekend, especially when we needed big kills to stop our opponent's momentum," UAA coach Chris Green said in a release from the school. "I'm also impressed with the all-around game that Taylor is finally getting a chance to show off this year. The middle of the match was rough for her, but she showed a lot of poise and played her best in the fifth set."
After Michigan Tech stormed back from the brink of defeat to win the third and fourth sets and force a fifth set, Noga halted the Huskies' momentum.
She played error-free volleyball while accounting for two kills on three attacks, four digs, one assist and one crowd-pleasing solo block.
It was UAA's first five-set match of the tournament and Michigan Tech's second.
A couple of Tech players put up huge numbers — Olivia Ghormley slammed 30 kills, Megan Utlak had 32 digs and Laura DeMarchi handed out 64 assists — and the Huskies statistically outpaced UAA in kills (76-53), attack percentage (.169 to .144) and digs (111-91).
UAA's advantage came at the service line and the net. The Seawolves outblocked the Huskies 17-4 and served seven aces while making just two serving errors the entire match. Michigan Tech had five aces but missed a dozen serves.
"Our servers did a great job of making that first pass very difficult for their back row, and our block played a big role in that last set like it did all night," Green said.
Leading the blocking effort were Eve Stephens (two solo blocks, five assists), Vera Pluharova (1 solo, 7 assists), Tara Melton (7 assists) and Vanessa Boyer (4 assists).
Stephens, a freshman out of Colony High, added six kills, Pluharova chipped in seven and Melton pounded nine on match-high .421 hitting. Anjoilyn Vreeland equalled Noga's 21 digs and setters Ellen Floyd and Casey Davenport combined for 41 assists and 25 digs.
The Seawolves make their first road trip this week for the Division II West Region Showcase in Irvine, California, where they'll play four matches in two days.
Michigan Tech 3-1
Western New Mexico 1-3
Barton College 0-4
Tatum Upchurch, UAF
Megan Utlak, Michigan Tech
Taylor Noga, UAA
Cate Whiting, UAF
Olivia Ghormley, Michigan
Most Outstanding Player — Chrisalyn Johnson, UAA
UAF 3, Western New Mexico 1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21)
Michigan Tech 3, Barton 0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-15)
UAF 3, Barton 0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-18)
UAA 3, Michigan Tech 2 (28-26, 25-22, 20-25, 24-26, 15-11)
Michigan Tech 3, UAF 2 (15-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 15-7)
Western New Mexico 3, Barton 1 (25-15, 22-25, 25-11, 25-15)
Michigan Tech 3, Western New Mexico 1 (24-26, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17)
UAA 3, Barton 1 (25-19, 25-14, 24-26, 25-17)
UAA 3, Western New Mexico 0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-14)