Nanooks Volleyball finalizes 2022-23 recruiting class

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 10:01 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It might only be June, and summer just feels like it is beginning, but the Alaska Nanooks volleyball team has finalized the recruiting class of 2022-23. The roster will be boosted by seven student athletes.

“It’s great,” said head coach Brian Scott on having the incoming class finalized. “Always excited to have it done, especially when we have a large class like that to try and replace. It’s a little bit of a weight off the shoulders to have that figured out and finished.”

Alaska’s volleyball roster will look a lot different between the last and the upcoming season. The Nanooks will deal with ten departures (seven graduates and three transfers). The Nanooks finished fifth in the GNAC last season and ended the year on a four-game winning streak.

Despite the strong season the Nanooks had last year, they have lost key pieces on their roster that include, but are not limited to players like: Cate Whiting, Emily Moorhead, Dani Dodge, AveRee Reynolds, Lahra Weber, and more.

“There were a lot of large holes to fill,” mentioned Scott on the recruiting strategy for the upcoming season. “We knew we needed to have some young talent, and we needed veteran leadership to come in as well.”

Four of the new players next season will be true freshmen, and the other three transferring in will be a sophomore, junior, and graduate student.

“It was important to get a balance between both junior college or transfers and some freshmen coming in,” Scott added.

The true freshmen group include: Ella Bines, Right Side (Orlando, FL), Elena Guc, Right Side (East China, MI), Cynphany Henderson, Setter (Otsego, MN), and Kelli Wright, Outside Hitter (Herriman, UT).

“They’re going to need to step up as soon as they walk in,” stated Scott. “There are I think two starters that saw some significant playing time that are returning. So, that means there’s a lot of spots on the court to fill. They’ll need to get to work fast, but I think this is a very young, athletic, very talented group. I think they’ll be up to it.”

The other three have previous collegiate volleyball experience: Jessa Long, Libero (Florida A&M), Kristina Head, Middle Blocker (Hutchinson Community College), and Johnasia Michelle Carr, Middle Blocker (Florida Southwestern State).

“As opposed to just being great athletes, these are leaders,” said Scott. “They’ve played at a high-level of ball. They’ll be able to provide some leadership on and off the court.” Both Jessa and Johnasia have also spent time at the NCAA Division-I level.

It didn’t matter which future Nanook student-athlete Coach Scott was talking about, he was clearly excited for the incoming class. The excitement will have to wait and build over the summer though. August 1 will be the first day of full-practice for the Nooks before starting their season August 19 at the Hawai’i-Alaska Challenge in Honolulu versus the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

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