Nanooks Sweep Home Tournament, Earn Team of the Week
Alaska won all four of thier matches this week as part of a seven-match win streak leading into conference play.
Alaska won all four of thier matches this week as part of a seven-match win streak leading into conference play.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – With conference play on the horizon, teams around the GNAC that came out of the gates firing on all cylinders are looking to keep their momentum going forward and Alaska has done just that as they rounded out the final week of the non-conference schedule.

The Nanooks went undefeated at their own Denali State Bank Ice Block Classic over the weekend. The team’s performances against tough non-conference competition has earned Alaska selection as the GNAC Team of the Week.

Alaska claimed four-set wins over Black Hills State, Florida Southern, and Arkansas Fort Smith and closed the week with a five-set win over Findlay to sweep the tournament. The Nanooks enter GNAC play with a 10-2 overall record and a seven-match win streak. They are among teams receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll.

The Nanooks started their week with a four-set win over Black Hills State on Thursday where they tallied 15 service aces, led by Rilee White who racked up six to go with her 14 kills.  Setter Ainsley Smith passed the ball well to her teammates with 20 assists in the win.

Alaska followed Thursday’s win with another over Florida Southern Friday night they comfortably outhit the Moccasins with a .343 percentage and dominated in blocking as well, 11-5. White led the offense again with 16 kills followed closely by Karli Nielson who tallied 15. Jessa Long was rock steady as she recorded 17 digs.

On Saturday, the Nanooks opened the afternoon with another four-set win over Arkansas Fort Smith and it was the usual suspects pacing the team on the way to victory as White put up 15 kills, Smith tallied 27 assists and Long provided 17 digs. Closing out the tournament and the week, Alaska took a five-set win over Findlay after dropping the second and third sets to complete the comeback victory.

Serving remained a strength for the Nanooks as they tacked on 12 aces with six of them courtesy of White, who leads Division II with 29. Alaska put up a staunch defense as well, led by Elizabeth Jackson’s seven on the night. She has 52 on the season which leads Division II. The Nanooks also lead Division II in blocks with 113.

Heading into conference play, Alaska’s rotation features five of the top 20 players in the GNAC in hitting percentage with Kristina Head (.338), Nielson (.297), Jackson (.276), Ella Bines (.270) and White (.268).

The Nanooks lead Division II in total assists (531), total kills, (573), total service aces (114), total team attacks (1,491) and total blocks (113). Alaska is also second in Division II in total digs with 624.

Head coach Brian Scott is pleased with how the team has played through the opening weeks of the season and of the work they continue to put in.

“We are proud of the hard work the team has been putting in over the past few weeks and glad to see it paying off,” Scott said. “Every member of this team contributes to our success and we are grateful for their desire to constantly improve. We’ll continue to get better as we fine-tune our skills and become disciplined in our systems.”

The Nanooks continue their season and open conference play on Thursday at home against Western Oregon before hosting Saint Martin’s on Saturday.