Despite tumultuous season, volleyball team tops GNAC

The Seattle Pacific volleyball team has been riding a rollercoaster all season, dropping in and out of first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference several times. However, three straight sweeps of GNAC opponents has the Falcons at the top again.

“I wouldn’t say it has put any stress on us [being in and out of first place]; we just want to prove that we belong at the top of the GNAC,” junior setter Shelby Swanson said. “We’re just so excited to have first place alone, and we want to keep proving ourselves.”

With five matches remaining in their season – SPU has a 4-1 record against their remaining opponents – the volleyball team looks to make a push for a second consecutive GNAC title. The only roadblocks in the way are Alaska Anchorage, which defeated the Falcons for one of SPU’s two league losses, and a trip up north to I-5 rivals Western Washington.

Senior outside hitter Lindsey Wodrich continued her recent success last Thursday against Saint Martin’s. Wodrich had her 11th double-double this season, putting down 11 kills and 10 digs. Junior outside hitter Cailin Fellows had a team-high 19 kills and hit at a .533 clip.

“[Wodrich] is such a huge part of our team. As a setter, I know I can set her the ball and she is such a consistent and aggressive hitter,” Swanson said. “In the back row, she is also a great defender, as her numbers show. She passes so well.”

Junior middle blocker Nikki Lowell was the other player in double figures for kills with 11, hitting .500 for the match.

Against Western Oregon last Saturday, Wodrich again led the team to their second sweep in as many games. She garnered another double-double, with 14 kills and 16 digs, to give her six double-doubles in the last seven matches. She now has 31 for her career.

Swanson also collected a double, setting up 32 kills with 15 digs. Senior libero Anna Herold also posted a big night, with 24 digs in just three games.

“We started off a bit different than last season, but I think we just needed to gain more chemistry, and obviously, we are starting to find it,” Swanson said.

Monday night was the final game of the Falcons’ second consecutive week playing three matches.

This win put the Falcons in sole possession of first place for just the second time this season in a tight GNAC.

Again, Wodrich was the aggressor, but this time it wasn’t in her normal fashion. She ended with 12 kills to lead her team, but instead of adding digs to her stats, it was aces. She had a career-high five service aces, using her jump serve to eclipse the 100 mark for her career.

“Top-spin serves are so effective because teams think the ball is going out, but the top spin makes it drop,” Swanson said. “It is so difficult to deal with because it creates confusion, both if it is in or out and in passing.”

Swanson handed out 33 assists to her team, distributing the ball to Lowell for 8 kills and to senior opposite hitter Paige Hoffman for nine kills.

The top eight teams from the West Region at the end of the season will punch their ticket to the NCAA Regionals, which will be held at the No. 1 seed’s gym.

“We’re excited to prove that we should be on top, and we have two really tough games ahead to prove that,” Swanson said. “We need to keep building on our chemistry and take that into the postseason; you can have all the talent in the world, which I think we do, but chemistry is just as important as that.”

The Falcons host the Alaska teams this week, facing Alaska Fairbanks tomorrow and Anchorage on Saturday for their senior night.

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Title: Despite tumultuous season, volleyball team tops GNAC | Author: Danny Brill | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2011-10-26 | Internal ID: 7837