With so many new faces in new places, the UAA volleyball team is trying to find some consistency early in the 2023 season.
On Thursday, the No. 14-ranked Seawolves demonstrated just enough to earn new head coach Stacie Meisner her first career home win.
In a topsy-turvy battle, UAA topped Upper Iowa 3-2 (15-25, 25-13, 14-25, 25-13, 15-13) in the opening day of the Seawolf Invitational at Alaska Airlines Center.
The match featured an odd dynamic as Upper Iowa dominated the first and third sets, while the Seawolves easily won the second and fourth, setting up a close fifth set.
“We’re here early in the season and I think teams in general are still trying to kind of figure things out,” Meisner said. “They’re trying to find their identity, find some consistency on the court, not just physically but mentally as well.”
Meisner, who is in her first season as head coach after replacing Chris Green in the offseason, earned her first career win last weekend in Fairbanks. But she said getting the first victory at home was special.
“It feels good,” she said. “We have great fans. We’ve got a great support system and getting wins here at home mean the world to the team. They want to show up and they want to be there for the fans. They want to be the team that the fans expect to see.”
The Peacocks dominated on offense in the first set with 12 kills and zero errors to take a 25-15 win.
UAA started to turn it around in the second set, cruising to a 25-13 victory. After losing the third set, the Seawolves won 25-13 again in the fourth. The offense came alive, led by a pair of juniors. Bethany Tuchardt led the team with 14 kills and Isabel Evans added a career-high 11 kills.
“We just kept playing our game, which we refer to as Seawolf volleyball, which is high intensity and aggressive volleyball,” Evans said. “We were trying to keep calm and maintaining the energy.”
In the deciding fifth set, the Wolves led 13-10, but the Peacocks rallied back to tie the set at 13-13. Evans came up with a huge kill to give UAA a 14-13 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. UAA was helped by the Peacocks’ four service errors in the fifth set.
“Any time you win in five, there’s a lot of emotion and excitement,” Meisner said. “You’ve got to be excited about wins like that. Even though it was ugly sometimes, it’s part of growth and learning and a win is a win.”
Nicole Blue added 10 kills for UAA and Kadyn Osborne and Makana Eleneki each had 21 assists. Zoe Semelroth was the kills leader for Upper Iowa with 14.
In other action on Thursday, Upper Iowa defeated Cal Poly Humbolt 3-1 in the opening match of the day and No. 7-ranked St. Cloud St. (Minn.) topped UAF 3-0. Play continues at the Seawolf Invitational for most of Friday with matches at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. at 4:30 p.m. The Seawolves take on St. Cloud State at 7 p.m. to cap the day.