Nanooks Volleyball preseason report
Nielson named to preseason GNAC team
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks are days away from starting their 2022 season. Wednesday, the Nooks will depart Fairbanks for Honolulu to participate in the Hawai’i-Alaska Challenge. Alaska will have four games in two days against Hawai’i at Hilo, Chaminade, and Hawai’i Pacific.
The blue and gold will have two more non-conference tournaments before their GNAC schedule begins, one at Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and the other, here in Fairbanks. Every year, the GNAC releases preseason polls for each sport predicting where each team will finish at the end of the season. Alaska volleyball came in sixth.
Western Washington came in the top spot and received all but one first place vote (UAA received one). Preseason finishers two through five were: Central Washington, UAA, Simon Fraser, and Seattle Pacific.
Head Coach, Brian Scott, is ready to enter his eighth season at the helm coaching the Nanooks, and despite leading Alaska to their highest win total since 1996, he recognized the reason why his team was rated lower than it might’ve been expected. The Nanooks are only returning seven players from the 2021 roster. Even though the Nanooks were predicted to finish sixth, he’s ready to prove the doubters otherwise.
“It’s kind of expected,“ Scott acknowledged regarding his team’s preseason polling. “We’re anxious to go out and show everybody we’re better than that. We’re going to be at the top... for sure in the top half. We didn’t need a coaches poll to come out and get us motivated to go out and do that. We’re already there. We want to win the GNAC. We didn’t need a coaches poll to say that.”
In addition to the GNAC preseason poll, they released their preseason all-conference team. Sophomore outside hitter, Karli Nielson, was the lone Nanook named to the list. Nielson was one of three sophomores with the distinction. The remaining field was upperclassmen.
This was also the first conference accolade for Nielson in her career as a Nanook. Despite having a shortened season last year due to an injury, her numbers were still very impressive. Nielson appeared in 56 sets over 20 matches last season, tallying 149 kills (2.66 per set) and a .209 hitting percentage. On the defensive side, the sophomore from South Weber, Utah, notched 42 digs and 23 blocks.
Nielson is healthy and eager to start the 2022 season, ready to take the floor with her teammates. “I definitely want to be competitive. I think that our team is really good,” said Nielson regarding the upcoming season. “It’s a fresh team, and we have a lot of weapons that we haven’t had before. There’s a lot of big shoes to fill, but we’re ready to play some good teams at a high level. I’m just super excited to play with my new teammates, my old teammates play competitively.”
The first chance the Nanooks will have to play competitively on Friday with two games. At 3:00 p.m., the Nooks face the University of Hawaii at Hilo and a late 9:00 p.m. start for their second game of the day against Chaminade University.
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