Every team’s goal each season is to win as many games in their conference as they can in pursuit of hopefully being crowned champion.
Ranked No. 5 nationally, the University of Alaska Anchorage women’s volleyball team accomplished that feat in dominating fashion, claiming the 2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference outright this past week as the regular-season portion of their schedule came to an end.
Now UAA’s ambitions have shifted.
The top-seeded Seawolves will begin their quest for a West Regional Championship and an Elite Eight berth by taking on the No. 8 seeded Chaminade Silverswords on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the Carver Gymnasium at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.
“The GNAC is a tough conference and it is a very, very hard thing to do,” UAA head coach Chris Green said about winning the conference title. “I feel very proud of our players for all the hard work they put in. Just battling every Thursday and Saturdays and a couple Fridays. Totaling up two losses for the whole season and only one in the GNAC is a huge accomplishment.”
In addition to being crowned conference champions, several Seawolves received well-deserved recognitions for their impressive play and contributions to this year’s team. Seniors Eve Stephens and Ellen Floyd were named to the All-GNAC First Team while fellow seniors Lisa Jaunet and Talia Leauanae received honorable mention recognition.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and what our players have done,” Green said. “It doesn’t happen very often so we’re excited that we’re able to celebrate a GNAC championship.”
Stephens also became the seventh player in program history and the first since Morgan Hooe in 2016 to be named GNAC Player of the Year, while Green was named GNAC Coach of the Year for the sixth time.
The Seawolves finished the regular season the same way they will unfortunately have to begin the postseason despite being the top seed in the Western Region — on the road.
In their final regular-season matches, the Seawolves swept both Western Oregon and St. Martin’s University. But their performances in those matches were much different despite the end result being the same.
“I think against Western Oregon we played very well but against Saint Martin’s, we did not play well,” Green said. “I think that gave us the motivation to have a couple pretty good days of practice here.”
He said the team bounced back from a poor performance in its regular-season finale by practicing well on Monday and Tuesday.
“It looked good (Tuesday) morning, and it looked yesterday, so hopefully we’re ready for Thursday,” Green said.
He hopes that his team will fare well at the regional tournament but knows that it won’t be a walk in the park.
“Our first round on Thursday is going to be very tough,” Green said. “They’re fired up, they’re ready to go, they’re ready to play and if practice is any indication, they’re ready to go.”