Alaska Volleyball wins in matinee versus Simon Fraser

Held Red Leafs hitting percentage at .052
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:56 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks spent Thursday afternoon playing a GNAC conference game rather than their normal afternoon practice. In the unusual 11:30 a.m. start, over 500 kids from local elementary students were in attendance, packing the Alaska Airlines gymnasium.

“I have never played in an environment like that before,” recalled Jessa Long. “Like kids screaming, it’s a whole level of this is what we do it for. This is where we want to be. We want to do it for these kids and put on a show.”

The decibel levels inside the gym were above average, and it set the tone for the entire afternoon, raising the Nanooks home court advantage.

In the first set, Simon Fraser pulled out to an early lead, and it would balloon to eight points, 14-22, forcing head coach Brian Scott to call his second timeout of the set. Out of the timeout, the Nooks scored ten of the next eleven points, creating a 24-23 lead. Simon Fraser caught a break with a Nanook error, then finished off the first with a kill and service ace.

“That was pretty awesome,” added Elena Guc. “It was really awesome they all got to come out. I think that definitely fueled our fire going into it and even after we lost the first set.”

The second set was all Alaska. The Nanooks rode an early 5-1 lead that only grew as the set went on. Elena Guc and Kristina Head each had three kills in the Nanooks 25-14 set two victory to knot the match at ones. Alaska out-hit Simon Fraser 32.1% to 12.5% in set number two.

The Nooks got more of the same results in the third. While the Nanooks hitting percentage wasn’t as strong as their second set, Simon Fraser’s also declined. The Red Leafs hit an abysmal, 4.7% in the third set and committed eight errors, handing the third to Alaska with ease, 25-16.

Set four was not the same as the two before, and had more tones of the first. There were eleven ties and three lead changes in the fourth as the Nanooks and Red Leafs battled neck and neck. Karli Nielson broke the final tie of the set with her tenth kill of the match, and Jessa Long finished off Simon Fraser with the service ace to claim match point, 26-24.

“It was a great defensive effort,” said head coach, Brian Scott. “Whenever you can hold a team to hitting .052 for the night, you’ve done your job defensively. They (Simon Fraser), know how to kill a ball. They know how to score points. I thought we did a great job defensively tonight.”

Kristina Head led the Nanooks attack with thirteen kills with a 40.0% hitting percentage. Karli Nielson had ten,, and Elena Guc added nine. Kinley Erickson and Jessa Long each produced three service aces a piece. Long was also huge in the back row defensively with twenty eight digs. Ainsley Smith led the assist production with twenty two and picked up eleven digs too.

Now, the Nanooks shift focus to Saturday’s opponent: #10 Western Washington University. Last season, both matches went to five sets and the Nanooks fell 2-3 both times. Coach Scott is still searching for his first career win against the Vikings.

“We should be confident we are a good team,” mentioned Scott. “We are a quality opponent, and we’re going to play a quality opponent. We need to be ourselves just like we were tonight. Just go out there, every point and battle.”

Saturday’s match with the Vikings will take place at the Patty Center at 2:00 p.m.