Alaska Volleyball Sweeps GNAC Foes, Wins Team Of Week
The Alaska volleyball team huddles around head coach Brian Scott during a timeout. The Nanooks are yet to drop a set in GNAC play this season. Photo by Miles Jordan.
The Alaska volleyball team huddles around head coach Brian Scott during a timeout. The Nanooks are yet to drop a set in GNAC play this season. Photo by Miles Jordan.

Monday, September 20, 2021

After putting together a 7-5 non-conference record, Alaska’s volleyball team put together a big week to distinguish themselves from other GNAC volleyball teams who had raced out to strong starts.

Led by freshman Karli Nielson and GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Emily Moorhead, the Nanooks had two in-conference dominating performances that earned them the GNAC Team of the Week award.

Alaska won all six sets over the course of the week, completing three-set sweeps over Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s. The Nanooks are one of three GNAC teams to open the conference season 2-0 and the only team to do so without dropping a set. The two victories run the team’s current win streak to five matches.

Moorhead won the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week award after averaging 1.83 blocks and 1.17 kills per set. Her strongest performance was in the conference opener against Western Oregon, where she had eight blocks, two of which were solo, with four kills.

"It's great to see the team receive recognition for all of their hard work,” head coach Brian Scott said. “From top to bottom on the roster, these athletes have been going hard in practice and the weight room to try and make the most of this season and prepare for each opportunity to play.”

Against Western Oregon, Alaska’s offense was clicking, as the Nanooks cleared the .350 mark in hitting percentage in two out of the three sets. Alaska asserted themselves early, outhitting the Wolves in the first set .355 to .095. In the third set, they tallied a .351 hitting percentage to help put the match away.

The individual offensive star of the game was Nielson, who had 13 kills in the match against WOU. Junior Sophie Schilling had eight kills and a .389 hitting percentage while Dani Dodge contributed 21 digs.

On Saturday, Alaska faced a Saint Martin’s team that had boosted their conference and regional profile after storming out to a 5-0 start. In this match, however, it was the Nanooks who stormed out to an impressive start, using offensive production from Nielsen and Schilling to win the first set 25-14. The team used an 11-1 run to close out the second set 25-19 before finishing off the Saints in the third set 25-21. The Nanooks hit five aces while holding Saint Martin’s without one.

Throughout the week, Alaska was a force at the net with 21 blocks across the two matches. Moorhead had 11 for the week, matching the combined total of Alaska’s two opponents. The Nanooks’ hitting percentage was also at least .100 higher than their opponents in both matches played.

“I think we have made good strides in the past several matches to play disciplined volleyball,” Scott said. “I feel it has shown on the scoreboard and in the stats as we have reached many, if not all, of our goals related to our level of play.”

Making the week more impressive was the fact that Alaska went on the road for both wins. They will play in their home conference opener this Thursday against Seattle Pacific.