Poised to earn a spot in the West Region playoffs a little more than a week ago, the UAA volleyball team is a longshot to make the postseason after suffering a three-set loss to Central Washington on Thursday.
The Wildcats beat UAA 25-23, 25-19, 25-22 to clinch second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The teams had been locked in a battle for second place for the last several weeks.
The loss in Ellensburg, Washington, was the second in three matches for the Seawolves, who have seen their playoff hopes all but vanish in the last two weeks.
They were the sixth-ranked team in the initial West Region poll released on Oct. 24, which put them in contention to make the eight-team region tournament.
They slipped to seventh in last week's rankings despite winning two matches, and then they stumbled against Seattle Pacific in a home match on Nov. 1. Though they recovered to beat Saint Martin's on Saturday, the Seawolves dropped to 10th place in this week's poll.
Even if UAA bounces back Saturday to beat Northwest Nazarene in its final regular-season match of the season, Thursday's loss is a serious blow to UAA's shot at a seventh straight postseason appearance.
The Seawolves (20-7 overall, 13-6 GNAC) had four players with eight or more kills but couldn't keep pace with the hot-hitting Wildcats (21-5, 15-4).
Makala Swart blasted 15 kills on .583 hitting to lead Central Washington to a .324 attack percentage. UAA, which got nine kills apiece from Tara Melton, Vanessa Boyer and Eve Stephens and eight from Chrisalyn Johnson, hit .212.
Johnson and Anjoilyn Vreeland led UAA with 14 digs apiece and Ellen Floyd served two aces and handed out 22 assists while sharing setting duties with Casey Davenport (20 assists). Vera Pluharova, a middle blocker who had a career-high eight kills in last week's win over Saint Martin's, was sick and missed the match.
The Seawolves play what could be their final match of the season Saturday afternoon at Northwest Nazarene.