After weeks of build-up and anticipation, the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball program’s “Pack the House” event was a success in more ways than one Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.
In partnership with the school’s administration and with the help of Alaska Airlines, the Seawolves completed the goal they set out to accomplish by filling up seats in their home arena to shatter the previous NCAA Division II attendance record for a single regular-season volleyball match.
“I want to thank our administration for helping organize this Pack the House event and Alaska Airlines for giving away those two tickets, and the community for coming out and watching one of the best teams in the country play volleyball,” UAA coach Chris Green said.
The previous record was 3,520 and when the Seawolves faced the Central Washington Wildcats for their final home match of the regular season, they did so in front of a rowdy record-breaking home crowd of 3,888 that consisted of fans, friends, classmates and family as the program honored its star-studded senior class as well.
“I think that made it even more exciting and also that it was senior night really put the cherry on top,” senior setter Ellen Floyd said. “We were the stars tonight, and I think that feeling will never happen again.”
The Seawolves have established themselves as one of the best teams in Division II this year. They’re 25-2 and 15-1 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Ranked No. 6 in the nation, they are also the top-ranked team in the DII’s West Region.
Green hopes this event will help grow the fan base even though they may have played their last home game until the 2023 season.
Even though the Seawolves swept the Wildcats 3-0 (25-20, 28-26, 25-22) to complete a regular-season sweep as well, the match was far from a cakewalk with each set going down to the wire.
“No one in the GNAC is going to give it to us and especially not now because we’re far into the season,” Floyd said. “Everyone has seen us play once so they know what we do, we know what they do, and it’s a fight every time no matter if they’re first, second or last in the GNAC.”
The Wildcats (15-10, 10-7 GNAC) are ranked No. 6 in the West and a formidable foe for UAA.
“They’re a great team and have some really good hitters,” Green said of Central Washington.
He admitted the Seawolves weren’t as crisp or efficient offensively as they have been for the bulk of the season and specifically stated their “serve receive struggled at times.”
“Our blocks were huge and our back-row defense was very good tonight,” Green said. “Defense wins championships and I think defense won this game tonight for us.”
He praised Central Washington libero Hannah Stires for helping her team complete some long rallies on her way to recording a team-high 23 digs but it was Floyd who he was even more amazed by after she finished with both a match and career-high 24 digs.
“It is crazy for anyone to have 24 digs in a three-set match,” Green said.
With the hard-fought win, the Seawolves didn’t just improve their overall record to 25-2 and their conference record to 15-1, it also means they will finish the regular season a perfect 13-0 on their homecourt.
“It’s incredible and I think it’s all because of the support of our fans,” Floyd said. “Having this massive stadium is really intimidating to other people and I think we really use that to our benefit.”
There is a chance UAA could host the NCAA DII West Regional Championships but if this winds up being the final time Floyd got to play on her homecourt, she couldn’t have written a better script.
“If this is my last game at this stadium, it can’t get any better than this,” Floyd said. “It’s my senior year, this is my senior night, we broke the record. We’re put down in history and winning in three was even better.”