Jessa Long ends collegiate career with conference hardware

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 2:52 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Jessa Long, aka the human highlight reel of the Nanooks volleyball team, came to Fairbanks for one lone season as a graduate transfer student-athlete. Long, who hails from Dixon, Illinois, spent the three previous years as the libero for Florida A&M.

“Everything we expected or thought she was going to be, she was that or more,” said head coach Brian Scott.

On November 10, Long set the Nanooks new program record for digs in a single season, which was previously held by Jenna Hickel in 2017. Jessa ended her career with 543, and the season included nine 20+ digs games and three 30+. Long only had one match with one single digit dig performance.

To add to the impressive resume as a Nanook, Jessa Long was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, and was a first team all-conference selection. Long becomes the first Nanook to win the Defensive Player of the Year award since its inception in 2012.

“Going out like that is a lot of peoples dream,” stated Long. “I’m so happy I was able to live one of my dreams out and obviously it was a team effort. I couldn’t have done it without great setting, great hitting to make me, the back row, look better.”

Even though Jessa only dawned the blue and gold for one season, she’ll leave a lasting impact on the volleyball program for years to come. “She’ll be talked about all next year,” mentioned Scott. “Like ‘remember when we played NNU last year at our place and Jessa made that crazy play?’ That’s going to come up all year long, all next year, for several more years.”

“I achieved. I conquered,” added Long. “Now that the season’s over, my teammates asked me, ‘Do you regret coming here?’ Absolutely not! It’s bigger than volleyball for me.

Long had only played NCAA Division I volleyball before embarking on her Alaska Nanook journey. When she was reflecting on this experience, there was one thing that stood out.

“I’ve never actually had a college that feels like home before,” Jessa commented. “For me, not only to come here and be in that type of environment, where it is home-like and there’s positive vibes all over, you fans support you no matter what... I will definitely be coming back here and showing my face.”

The Nanooks conclude their 2022 season with an 18-12 overall record (8-10 GNAC).