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UAF Volleyball sends off senior Markie Miller following spring season finale

Published: Apr. 17, 2021 at 7:27 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - When Markie Miller made a recruiting visit to the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2017, she just saw it as an opportunity to travel to the 49th State. Four years later, she has made more of an impact on UAF Athletics than she could have imagined.

UAF Volleyball welcomed the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves to town this weekend for the final collegiate competition for the Nanooks this academic year. Prior to the first serve on Saturday, the team recognized Miller, their lone graduate who has spent left an impression on the program beyond results.

“It is a hard day to lose Mark, I love the kid,” said an emotional Brian Scott, who has coached Miller throughout her collegiate career. “From the moment she walked in the doors, there isn’t a person that doesn’t feel welcome when they come to this program, and Markie is a huge reason for that. On top of that, she is this great athlete too. We have been lucky and we have been blessed for four years to have Markie here.”

Miller is UAF’s lone dual sport athlete outside of the Nordic ski/cross-country crossovers. A leader for the volleyball program, Miller also spent two seasons with women’s basketball team.

“It has been the best experience I could ask for,” said Miller while being handed a box of tissues. “When I came up here, it felt like a family and then everybody did become my family. I am just so thankful to have been able to spend four years here and I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates.”

While there are other seniors on the team, Miller used her extra year of eligibility granted to all student-athletes this year to finish her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, while also receiving a minor in Spanish.

“I don’t think those elementary kids realize what a gem they are getting. They have no idea. She is going impact lives as a school teacher. She will change lives,” said Scott. “Pretty cool to have somebody like that come through this program and know that she is leaving here and will impact an impact on the lives of people.”

During the 2020-21 school year, the Brewster, Washington-native completed her student teaching internship at Pearl Creek Elementary, while also practicing with both the volleyball and basketball programs.

“I am so thankful they let me do it,” Markie said of playing two sports at UAF. “Sometimes I think it was really crazy. It was so fun and I am just lucky I was able to experience it, my body definitely feels it. I couldn’t have done it without [the coaches].”

Assistant Coach Meagan Woods, a former UAF volleyball player and 2016 graduate, mentioned that the way Miller represents the program models what the staff looks for in their student-athletes.

“The way that she carries herself is exactly what we expect from our athletes and more,” said Woods. “She is an amazing leader, amazing teammate and just such a great person, everybody is going to miss her so much.”

In four years as a Nanook, Miller appeared in 89 volleyball games, tallying 623 kills, 44 service aces, 208 digs and 77 blocks. On the hardwood, Miller played 12 games for the women’s basketball program, including an 8-point, 4-rebound, 1-assist and 1-steal performance in 12 minutes during the 2017-18 season.

“It is so cool to be able to go around town and people will talk to you, and it is cool to see the little kids looking up to us too,” added Miller. “I know we all really notice that and everybody loves that, but we also take time to make sure we acknowledge the little kids and show them that they can do this too.

“Fairbanks is just amazing and I am so glad I came here and I don’t want to leave.”

GAME ONE — FRIDAY — UAA — 25-19, 25-15, 18-25, 25-17

The Seawolves (9-1) infiltrated the Patty Center Friday looking to avenge their lone loss of the season, which came at the hands of the Nanooks in a five-set thriller March 27 in Anchorage. UAA was successful in their mission, and did so early and often, taking the first two set 25-19, 25-15. Rather than lying down, the Nanooks responded in the third set by scoring eight of the final nine points to get on the board. The Seawolves closed the door on any comeback efforts by finishing the fourth set on a 9-1 run to take the match victory. Seniors AveRee Reynolds (11) and Lahra Weber (10) led the way offensively with double-digit kills, while fellow senior Cate Whiting dished out 29 assists.

GAME TWO — SATURDAY — UAA — 25-20, 25-20, 25-13

In her final game donning the ‘A Bear’, Miller punched home a team-high seven kills at a .385 hit percentage, while adding a block and a dig. In set one, the ‘Nooks had control with an early 13-7 lead, but the Seawolves snapped out of the funk, scoring 18 of the next 25 points to steal the opening set. Unfortunately for the Nanooks, a similar storyline followed for the final two sets as well, with UAF holding 6-2 and 8-6 leads in the second and third before the Seawolves roared back to take the match sweep.

The Nanooks finish 5-6 on their condensed and revised spring season. All players, excluding Miller, are expected to return next year while welcoming in a new class of freshman.

Saturday marked the conclusion for UAF Athletics during the 2020-21 academic year. The next time the Patty Center will feature competition is when the volleyball program returns in the fall as athletics look to get back on track and back on schedule next year.

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