Alaska Wins First 2, Awarded Red Lion Team Of The Week
The Nanooks won their first two matches, both on home court. Sam Harthun moved closer to the school record for kills with 1,274 in her career.
The Nanooks won their first two matches, both on home court. Sam Harthun moved closer to the school record for kills with 1,274 in her career.

Monday, October 5, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. – With its first two wins of the season, Alaska volleyball received the Red Lion Team of the Week award. The Nanooks earned two home victories against Saint Martin’s in five sets and Seattle Pacific in four.

“We are honored to be able to receive the award and hope to receive many more,” said first-year head coach Brian Scott. “The team deserves to see that accomplishment and that momentum is changing.”

The Nanooks defeated Seattle Pacific for the first time since 2008, a span of almost seven years. This was the first time Alaska has won back-to-back matches since 2014, when the Nanooks defeated Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s at home on Oct. 2 and 4.

The Nanooks were led by one of the top outside hitters in the conference in Sam Harthun. The senior was named GNAC Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week after she racked up 35 total kills over the two matches, with a season-high 20 coming against Saint Martin’s. Harthun has a nine-match double-digit kills streak and is 89 kills away from tying the Alaska career record. She also ranks 12th on the GNAC all-time list with 1,274 career kills.

“Sam is our go-to player,” said Scott. “She has led this team for four years. She works hard, puts in the hours and is a great teammate. She’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s not just her, that she has great teammates.”

Senior libero Samantha Hesterman posted a season-high 17 digs against Saint Martin’s and followed it up with a career-high 23 digs against Seattle Pacific. Senior setter Miranda Grieser extended her double-digit assists streak to 39 matches with 28 against Saint Martin’s and 27 against Seattle Pacific. She also added 10 digs against SPU.

The Nanooks avoided a Saint Martin’s comeback for their first win, defeating the Saints in five sets 25-17, 25-15, 24-26, 20-25, 15-7. Riley Podowicz and Harthun each had a career-best seven aces in the win, which ended a 15-match losing streak. Podowicz leads the GNAC and is ranked 17th in Division II with 0.55 aces per set. She is also ranked 28th in Division II with 23 total aces.

“We’ve been working hard for weeks now,” said Scott. “It’s nice to see some of the fruits of our labor pay off here. There’s been a learning curve all the way around for everyone.”

The Alaska defense limited Saint Martin’s to a .168 hitting percentage and Seattle Pacific to a .056 hitting percentage. Kensey Mix and Maddie Davis each had six assisted blocks against the Falcons.

With the wins, the Nanooks improved their record to 2-11 overall and 2-4 in the GNAC. After hosting their last four matches, the Nanooks will be on the road at Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.