Alaska Volleyball returns home for matches with Simon Fraser and Western Washington
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks volleyball team returns to the Alaska Airlines Gymnasium at the Patty Center following a road trip split losing to Seattle Pacific and sweeping Montana State University Billings. The SPU and MSUB trip is always Alaska’s longest trip of the season. The Nanooks have a 12-4 overall record (2-2 GNAC).
“Good to get it under the belt,” recalled head coach, Brian Scott. “Glad to get the longest trip out of the way, and it was good to come out with a split on the road. The GNAC is tough competition, and anytime you can come away with a win on the road is a good weekend.”
Tomorrow morning, Alaska is holding a “Field Day” with over 500 elementary students will be in attendance while the Nanooks host the Simon Fraser Red Leafs.
“I absolutely love this,” added Scott. “This is my favorite match of the year, because I think it means something to these kids when they come out. They get to see a university setting, see and meet college players up close and personal. I love this, and I think it builds community relationships too.”
Last season against SFU, the Nooks split the series. Each team winning their respective home game 3-1. Individually for the Red Leafs, Sophomore, Brook Dexter, leads SFU in kills this season with 146. Dexter had 20 kills in both matches against Alaska last season. As for Alaska’s attack. Rilee White and Karli Nielson each have more kills than Dexter. White has 176, and Nielson, 169.
“Hopefully, we can give the kids a lot to cheer for,” said Sophomore, Karli Nielson. “It’s going to be a fun crowd.”
Saturday, the Nanooks host the tenth-ranked, Western Washington. The Vikings have a refined attacked with the tri-head of Gabby Gunterman, Calley Heilborn, and Chloe Roercisoender accounting for 318 combined kills, and the offense almost solely runs through Malia Aleaga. Aleaga has 435 assists (no other Viking has more than 20).
“We’ve been preparing all season. It’s not just this week,” mentioned, Karli Nielson. “Knowing how good these teams are is pushing us in practice. Hopefully I can help bring the intensity that’s needed to plays these teams this week.”
Western Washington remains the only team in the GNAC Alaska head coach, Brian Scott, has yet to defeat. Last season was the first time in Scott’s tenure the Nanooks claimed at least one set. Both matches in 2021 went to five sets with the Nooks falling 2-3.
“You don’t get to be considered number ten in the country this far into the season without there being weight or merit to is,” said Scott. “Year in and year out, they’re always a top-quality opponent.”
Team keys this weekend, coach Scott pointed to shoring up more of the defensive side of the game, specifically the digs. Libero grad-transfer, Jessa Long is the digs leader with 257 (4.21 per set). Three other Nooks have over 100 (White, Overn, and Smith).
“Jessa does not let a ball go unnoticed,” stated Nielson. “She has a lot of experience. We want to play up to the level of Jessa.”
The individual players that coach Scott highlighted as keys to the weekend, were the freshmen. Elena Guc and Ella Bines are the two, true freshmen on this season’s squad. Guc is coming off a strong weekend, setting career highs in kills, digs, and blocks in last weekend’s road trip. Bines also had a good weekend, with fifteen total kills and three blocks.
Tomorrow’s “Field Day” game against Simon Fraser starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday’s match against #10 Western Washington will begin at 2:00 p.m., but will have multiple ceremonies pregame. The Nanooks will present their first “Warriors of the Month” this season and the Rifle team will reveal their 2022 Patriot Rifle Conference Championship banner in Alaska Airlines Gymnasium.
Copyright 2022 KTVF. All rights reserved.