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Three Teams Emerge From Opening Of GNAC Play At 2-0
Gabby Gunterman (raising hands, center) and Western Washington beat Seattle Pacific and Montana State Billings to improve to 6-0 at home this season.
Gabby Gunterman (raising hands, center) and Western Washington beat Seattle Pacific and Montana State Billings to improve to 6-0 at home this season.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

FOUR START CONFERENCE SEASON UNBLEMISHED: In what is proving to be a very competitive conference season, four squads made it through the first week of GNAC play undefeated.

Alaska Anchorage, Simon Fraser and Western Washington all went 2-0 over the opening week. The Seawolves made quick work of their opponents to win its win streak to four matches, ending Saint Martin’s nine-match win streak in three sets on Thursday before scoring a three-set sweep of Western Oregon on Saturday to improve to 6-0 at the Alaska Airlines Center this season.

The Vikings were just as efficient, scoring a pair of three-set sweeps over Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday. Like UAA, Western Washington is now 6-0 on the season in home matches.

The Red Leafs needed to play a little longer to earn its 2-0 record. After collecting a three-set sweep over Montana State Billings on Thursday, SFU had to hold off a third and fourth-set rally by Seattle Pacific to score the five-set victory over the Falcons.

Northwest Nazarene played just one match last week, collecting a three-set sweep over Central Washington on Saturday. The win allowed the Nighthawks to improve to 8-1 overall, the team’s best record since 2019.

This week’s key matchups include one between the conference’s up-and-comers with Saint Martin’s hosting Northwest Nazarene on Thursday. Simon Fraser and Western Washington will square off in the first of two border battle matches on Saturday.

STEPHENS BECOMES ALL-TIME KILLS LEADER: The storied career of Alaska Anchorage senior right-side hitter Eve Stephens hit another milestone as she became the GNAC’s all-time kills leader on Saturday.

With her nine kills against Western Oregon on Saturday, Stephens moved to 1,630 kills and counting to surpass the previous career record of 1,628 kills set by Abby Phelps of Western Washington between 2015 and 2018. Stephens is also the conference’s all-time record holder with 1,934 points, surpassing the previous record of 1,853 held also by Phelps.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE
Brooke Dexter, Simon Fraser
OPP • 6-2 • Sophomore • Anchorage, Alaska

Dexter led the Red Leafs to a 2-0 start to conference play by averaging 3.75 kills, 1.75 digs, 0.88 blocks and 0.75 aces per set with a .451 hitting percentage. On Thursday, Dexter finished with a double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs to go with two aces and four blocks in a three-set sweep of Montana State Billings. On Saturday, Dexter finished with 19 kills, four digs, three blocks and a .533 hitting percentage in a five-set victory over Seattle Pacific. She also had four aces in a match where SFU finished with 23 aces, one short of the GNAC single-match record.

Also Nominated: Karli Nielson (Alaska), Eve Stephens (Alaska Anchorage), Miya Koch (Northwest Nazarene), Olivia Fairchild (Western Washington).

DEFENSIVE
Calley Heilman, Western Washington
OH • 6-1 • Senior • Auburn, Wash.

Heilborn averaged four digs and 2.83 kills per set as the Vikings opened the conference season with a pair of wins. In Thursday’s three-set sweep of Seattle Pacific, Heilborn finished with 14 digs and seven kills. In Saturday’s three-set sweep of Montana State Billings, Heilborn notched a double-double of 10 digs and 10 kills with a pair of aces.  

Also Nominated: Elizabeth Jackson (Alaska), Leilani Elder (Alaska Anchorage), Mckenzie Lee (Northwest Nazarene), Kalyn Hartmann (Simon Fraser).

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA
• Alaska split its matches in the opening week of conference play, dropping a five-set match to Western Oregon on Thursday before securing a three-set sweep of Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

• Sophomore outside hitter Karli Nielsen led the Nanooks with averages of four kills and 0.56 blocks per set with a .419 hitting percentage. Nielsen finished with 14 kills and three digs against Western Oregon before leading the way with 22 kills, five digs, four blocks and a .583 hitting percentage against Saint Martin’s. Nielsen is eighth in the GNAC with 2.78 kills per set. She ranks seventh in Division II with 26 aces.

• Sophomore outside hitter Rilee White averaged 2.78 kills, 1.89 digs and 0.78 aces per set. She led the Nanooks against Western Oregon with 14 kills, nine digs and four aces and added an 11-kill, eight-dig, three-ace performance against Saint Martin’s. White is sixth in the GNAC with 2.83 kills per set. She leads the GNAC and is 21st in Division II with 0.67 aces per set and leads Division II with 36 total aces.

• Alaska is fourth in the GNAC with 12.63 kills and 11.72 assists per set. The Nanooks lead the GNAC and is 15th in Division II with 2.52 aces per set. They also lead the GNAC and rank 21st in Division II with 2.46 blocks per set

• Alaska continues to rank among teams receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll, picking up eight points.

• Alaska takes to the road this week with matches at Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Alaska Anchorage improved to 6-0 at home as it opened GNAC play with a pair of three-set victories over Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

• Senior right-side hitter Eve Stephens finished with 19 kills in the two matches to become the conference’s all-time career kills leader. She has 1,630 in her career to surpass the former record of 1,628 set by Abby Phelps of Western Washington (2015-18). Stephens averaged 3.17 kills and 3.17 digs per set, finishing with 10 kills and 11 digs against Saint Martin’s along with nine kills, eight digs and four blocks against Western Oregon. Stephens leads the GNAC and is eighth in Division II with 4.61 kills per set. She is also first in the GNAC and third in Division II with 5.66 points per set. Stephens leads Division II with 203 total kills.

• Sophomore middle blocker Leilani Elder was big at the net with eight blocks with 10 kills in the two matches. Elder finished with five kills and four blocks against Saint Martin’s along with five kills and four blocks against Western Oregon. Elder enters the week averaging 1.39 kills and 0.86 blocks per set.

• Senior outside hitter Lisa Jaunet averaged 2.50 kills per set, paced by her eight kills against Saint Martin’s. Januet ranks fifth in the GNAC with 3.11 kills per set.

• Alaska Anchorage is second in the GNAC and 30th in Division II with 13.55 kills per set. The Seawolves lead the conference and rank third in Division II with a .307 hitting percentage.

• Alaska Anchorage moved up two spots to No. 14 in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll of the season.

• The Seawolves hits the road for its next two matches, facing Montana State Billings on Thursday and Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Traveling to Nampa for its only match of the week, Central Washington took a three-set loss to Northwest Nazarene on Saturday in the GNAC opener for both teams.

• The Wildcats hit a robust .189 in the loss. Junior setter/outside hitter Tia Andaya led the way with her double-double of 15 kills and 11 assists with five digs. Andaya is averaging 2.44 kills, 4.79 assists, 1.62 digs and 0.76 blocks per set.

• Sophomore outside hitter Marianna Payne came off the bench to register eight kills, three digs and two blocks. Payne is averaging 2.15 kills and 0.82 blocks per set.

• Sophomore middle blocker Emma Daoud-Hebert added two kills and three blocks in the loss. She continues to lead the GNAC and ranks second in Division II with 1.53 blocks per set.

• Central Washington is averaging 12.21 kills and 11.74 digs per set. The Wildcats are second in the GNAC and 25th in Division II with 2.41 blocks per set and are third in the GNAC and 43rd in Division II with 2.24 aces per set.

• Despite the loss, Central Washington continued to receive votes in the AVCA Division II Coaches Poll with 30 points.

• Central Washington concludes an 11-match season-opening road trip this week, traveling to Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings took a pair of road losses to open the conference season, dropping three-set matches to Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday.

• Junior outside hitter Jahsita Fa’ali’i led the Yellowjackets with averages of 2.83 kills and 2.33 digs per set. Fa’ali’i finished with six kills and seven digs at Simon Fraser before leading the team with 11 kills and seven digs at Western Washington. She enters the week with averages of 2.53 kills and 2.62 digs per set.

• Freshman outside hitter Caty Havekost averaged 2.67 kills per set in the two matches. She led MSUB at Simon Fraser with nine kills before finishing with seven kills at Western Washington. Havekost enters the week averaging 2.31 kills per set.

• Senior setter Hannah Hashbarger averaged 4.83 assists per set on the road trip. She finished with 18 assists at Simon Fraser and 11 assists at Western Washington while coming up with seven digs in both matches. Hashbarger is sixth in the GNAC with 5.84 assists per set.

• Montana State Billings is averaging 11.50 kills per set and is second in the conference with 15.12 digs per set.

• The Yellowjackets come home for their next two matches, hosting Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and Alaska on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene opened conference play with a three-set sweep of Central Washington on Saturday. It was the Nighthawks’ sixth straight victory.

• Senior middle blocker Olivia Wright led the Nighthawks offensively with 13 kills and three blocks with a .611 hitting percentage. Wright is second in the GNAC with 3.38 kills per set. She leads the conference and is 26th in Division II with a .397 hitting percentage while also ranking second in the GNAC and 25th in Division II with 1.23 blocks per set.

• Senior outside hitter Natalie Sullivan finished with a double-double of 10 kills and 12 digs with three assists. Sullivan is third in the GNAC with 3.67 kills per set while also averaging 3.37 digs per set.

• Sophomore right side hitter Miya Koch also finished with 10 kills and a .667 hitting percentage while also contributing seven digs. Koch enters the week averaging 2.30 kills per set and is 10th in the GNAC with 3.43 digs per set.

• Northwest Nazarene is second in the GNAC and 19th in Division II with a .269 hitting percentage. The Nighthawks lead the GNAC and rank 16th in Division II with 13.93 kills per set. They also lead the conference and rank 23rd in Division II with 17.40 digs per set.

• Northwest Nazarene plays its next two matches on the road, facing Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s saw its nine-match win streak come to an end in Alaska with the Saints taking a three-set loss at Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and a four-set loss at Alaska on Saturday.

• Sophomore outside hitter Tia Allen led the way offensively with averages of 3.43 kills and 3.29 digs per set. Allen finished with eight kills, nine digs and a block at Alaska Anchorage before scoring a double-double of 16 kills and 14 digs at Alaska. Allen is fourth in the GNAC with 3.47 kills per set while also averaging 3.08 digs per set. She is 24th in Division II with 419 total attacks.

• Sophomore middle blocker Maddy Gooding averaged 1.57 blocks and 1.29 kills per set. She came up with three kills and seven blocks at Alaska Anchorage while registering six kills, four digs and four blocks at Alaska. Gooding is averaging 2.06 kills and 0.69 blocks per set on the season.

• Junior setter Karla Soto averaged 8.57 assists per set. She notched a double-double with 22 assists and 11 digs at Alaska Anchorage before finishing with 38 assists, five digs and two blocks at Alaska. Soto is fourth in the GNAC with 9.49 assists per set.

• Saint Martin’s enters the week averaging 11.85 kills and 14.35 digs per set. The Saints rank 48th in Division II with 511 team kills.

• The Saints are home for their next two matches, hosting Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Central Washington on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific dropped both matches last week to open GNAC play, falling in three sets at Western Washington on Thursday and in five sets at Simon Fraser on Saturday.

• Junior outside hitter Sarah Brachvogel and junior opposite Maddie Pruden each averaged two kills per set in the two matches. Pruden finished with eight kills in both matches and added three digs and three blocks at Simon Fraser. Pruden enters the week averaging 1.92 kills per set.

• Brachvogel, meanwhile, finished with four kills and four aces at Western Washington before registering 12 kills, two aces, two digs and two blocks at Simon Fraser. Brachvogel is averaging a team-high 2.44 kills and 0.42 aces per set.

• Sophomore setter Emily Tulino averaged 3.75 assists and 1.88 digs per set. She put together 13 assists and six digs at Western Washington before registering 17 assists, nine digs and two aces at Simon Fraser. Tulino is averaging 4.32 assists and 1.84 digs per set.

• Seattle Pacific enters the week averaging 10.49 kills and 12.11 digs per set. The Falcons are fifth in the GNAC with 1.86 aces per set.

• The Falcons come home to Seattle this week to host Alaska on Thursday and Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser opened conference play 2-0 thanks to a three-set sweep of Montana State Billings on Thursday and a five-set victory over Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

• Sophomore outside hitter Brooke Dexter was named the GNAC Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week after she averaged 3.75 kills, 1.75 digs, 0.75 aces and 0.88 blocks per set in the two victories with a .451 hitting percentage. Dexter had a double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs with two aces and four blocks against MSUB. She added totals of 19 kills, four digs, four aces and three blocks against Seattle Pacific. Dexter is tied for sixth in the GNAC with 2.83 kills per set.

• Sophomore outside hitter Jocelyn Sherman averaged 2.83 kills and two digs per set. Sherman led the Red Leafs with 13 kills, six digs and two blocks against MSUB before adding totals of four kills, three aces, six digs and two blocks against Seattle Pacific. Sherman is averaging 2.33 kills and 2.09 digs per set.

• Junior middle blocker Kalyn Hartmann was big at the net once again, averaging 1.38 blocks per set to go with 2.12 kills per set. Hartmann finished with 11 kills and four blocks against MSUB. She then added six kills, seven blocks, four digs and two aces against Seattle Pacific. Hartmann is fifth in the GNAC with 1.17 blocks per set and is fourth in Division II with 55 total blocks.

• In the Seattle Pacific match, Simon Fraser finished with 23 aces. The effort was one short of the GNAC single-match record of 24 set by Alaska Anchorage in 2001 and set a record for aces in a conference match, surpassing the 22 set by Saint Martin’s in 2002 and equaled by Northwest Nazarene in 2019.

• The Red Leafs enter the week averaging 11.17 kills and 13.27 digs per set. Simon Fraser is ninth in Division II with 103 total blocks and 19th with 503 team assists.

• Simon Fraser plays once next week, traveling just across the border to take on Western Washington on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon split its matches on the Alaska road trip, stunning Alaska in five sets on Thursday before taking a three-set loss at Alaska Anchorage on Saturday.

• Sophomore outside hitter Madison Hornback averaged 2.50 kills and 2.12 digs per set to lead the Wolves. She led the way with her double-double of 15 kills and 14 digs with three blocks and two aces at Alaska. She added five kills, three digs and two aces at Alaska Anchorage. Hornback enters the week averaging a team-high 2.66 kills and 2.42 digs per set. She ranks 10th in the GNAC with 3.26 points per set.

• Senior outside hitter Sarah Crowell also averaged 2.50 kills per set on the road trip. She finished with 16 kills and a .278 hitting percentage at Alaska before adding four kills at Alaska Anchorage. Crowell is averaging 2.19 kills per set.

• Sophomore outside hitter Bailey Hartsook averaged 1.88 kills per set, led by her 11-kill, two-dig performance at Alaska. Hartsook enters the week averaging 2.39 kills per set.

• Western Oregon enters the week averaging 12.39 kills and 13.32 digs per set. The Wolves are fifth in the GNAC with 11.47 assists per set.

• The Wolves are home for their next two matches, hosting Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington opened conference play with a pair of three-set victories, sweeping past Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday.

• Senior outside hitter Calley Heilborn was named the GNAC Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week after she averaged four digs and 2.83 kills per set in the two victories. Heilborn finished with seven kills and 14 digs against Seattle Pacific before registering a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs with two aces against MSUB. Heilborn enters the week averaging 2.58 kills and 3.37 digs per set.

• Senior middle blocker Olivia Fairchild averaged 3.33 kills per set to lead WWU offensively. Fairchild finished with 19 kills, two digs and three blocks against Seattle Pacific before posting 10 kills with a .833 hitting percentage against MSUB. Fairchild enters the week averaging 2.19 kills and 0.86 blocks per set.

• Senior outside hitter Gabby Gunterman finished with averages of 2.67 kills and 3.50 digs per set. Gunterman posted a double-double of 10 kills and 11 digs with three blocks against Seattle. Shen then added totals of six kills, 10 digs and three aces against MSUB. Gunterman is ninth in the GNAC with 2.75 kills per set.

• Western Washington is third in the GNAC with 12.11 kills per set. The Vikings are third in the conference and 45th in Division II with 12.11 assists per set.

• Western Washington climbed two spots to No. 9 in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll.

• The Vikings wrap up a three-match homestand on Saturday when they host Simon Fraser.

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