Falcons, ‘Cats Lead Fight For Playoffs
Seattle Pacific's Allison Wilks leads the GNAC in hitting percentage at .421 entering the final week of the regular season.
Seattle Pacific's Allison Wilks leads the GNAC in hitting percentage at .421 entering the final week of the regular season.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly

PORTLAND, Ore. – With two matches left in the 2023 regular season, No. 19 Seattle Pacific and No. 20 Central Washington lead the push for the postseason among Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams.

Both schools appeared in the NCAA West Region rankings for the third consecutive week, with Seattle Pacific checking in at No. 6 and Central Washington checking in at No. 8. Simon Fraser, which was ranked No. 10 in last week’s poll, slipped out of the rankings which were released on Wednesday.

NCAA West Region Volleyball Rankings - Nov. 15, 2023
Rank Team Conference In-Region Record Overall Record
1 Chaminade PacWest 27-3 28-3
2 Cal St. San Bernardino CCAA 22-4 22-4
3 Cal Poly Pomona CCAA 18-6 20-6
4 Point Loma PacWest 20-4 20-5
5 Cal St. Los Angeles CCAA 16-7 17-9
6 Seattle Pacific GNAC 18-4 20-4
7 San Francisco State CCAA 16-9 17-9
8 Central Washington GNAC 14-6 18-6
9 Sonoma State CCAA 17-8 17-8
10 Cal State East Bay CCAA 13-12 13-12

NCAA Rankings/Tournament Information

The final NCAA tournament selections (eight teams) will be revealed on a live selection show on Monday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST. The GNAC regular-season champion will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA West Region Championships, which will run Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at the site of the No. 1 overall seed.

This Week's Conference Slate - Nov. 6-18
  Thursday, Nov. 9 Saturday, Nov. 11
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
UAA UAF 7 p.m. (AST) Bye --
MSUB WOU 7 p.m. (MST) SMU 1 p.m. (MST)
#19 SPU SMU 7 p.m. (PST) WOU 1 p.m. (PST)
SFU #20 CWU 7 p.m. (PST) NNU 5 p.m. (PST)
WWU NNU 7 p.m. (PST) #20 CWU 7 p.m. (PST)


This Week's Storylines

FALCONS 1 WIN AWAY FROM CROWN: The GNAC leaders from the very first week of the season, Seattle Pacific will look to make it a wire-to-wire crown with one win on the final weekend of regular-season play. A victory Thursday over Saint Martin’s or Saturday over Western Oregon, or a loss by Central Washington would clinch the Falcons’ first outright championship since the 2011 season. SPU has already secured at least a share of the regular-season title, as the best CWU could finish is 14-4 which SPU would match in the case of two defeats this weekend. The Falcons however will be hungry for a victory to deliver their fifth GNAC crown, which would be the second most in GNAC history behind Western Washington’s 11. SPU won back-to-back GNAC titles in 2005-06 and again in 2010-11, with two of those being shared titles and the other two outright crowns.

GNAC Player of the Year candidate Hannah Hair has led the way for SPU, continuing to lead NCAA Division II with 1.70 blocks per set. Hair has upped her career total to 458 blocks which ranks her sixth in GNAC history, and she enters the week 11 blocks shy of Alaska Anchorage’s Erin Braun for fifth all-time. Sarah Brachvogel ranks second in the conference with an average of 3.37 kills per set, while Allison Wilks is the league leader in hitting percentage at .421.

GNAC Career Blocks Leaders
Rank Player School Blocks Career
1 Kayleigh Harper Western Washington 597 2015-16, 18-19
2 Madi Farrell Northwest Nazarene 559 2014-17
3 Cammy Dranginis Northwest Nazarene 473 2006-09
4 Sabrina Wheelhouse Central Washington 472 2014-17
5 Erin Braun Alaska Anchorage 469 2013-16
6 Hannah Hair Seattle Pacific 458 2020-23
7 Vera Pluharova Alaska Anchorage 448 2017-21
8 Chloe Roetcisoender Western Washington 439 2019-22
9 Shaun Crespi Seattle Pacific 433 2015-18
10 Michaela Hall Western Washington 432 2015-18

WILDCATS LOOK TO LOCK UP REGIONAL BERTH: The winners of six straight, Central Washington (18-6, 12-4) will look to secure its spot in the NCAA West Region Championships by finishing the regular season strong. A tough task lies in front of the Wildcats however, who play at fourth-place Simon Fraser (15-9, 10-6) on Thursday and close the season at third-place Western Washington (11-13, 11-5) on Saturday.

Read More: Wildcats Travel to SFU & WWU To Conclude Regular Season (CWU Preview)

Emma Daoud-Hebert has been the defensive catalyst all season long for CWU, ranking second in Division II behind Hair at 1.48 blocks per set. The senior is also among the conference’s all-time blocks leaders, entering the week at No. 19 with 373 denials. GNAC preseason Player of the Year Tia Andaya ranks second in the conference with 8.92 assists per set and fourth with 1.10 blocks per set. Morgan Halady has burst onto the scene to the tune of 1.08 blocks per set, while libero Hannah Stires ranks second in the GNAC with 4.97 digs per set.

SAINTS LOOK TO PUT EXCLAMATION MARK ON HISTORIC SEASON: Having already secured the most successful season in program history, Saint Martin’s (16-10, 9-7) could finish as high as third place in the GNAC standings with two matches left to play. While the Saints will fall short of a regional qualifier in 2023, head coach Dan Behnke has the program moving in the right direction. Senior setter Karla Soto leads the GNAC and ranks 28th in Division II volleyball with 10.39 assists per set, and has racked up 1,901 assists in just two seasons at SMU. Her two-year career average of 9.74 assists per set ranks her 22nd in GNAC history.

Read More: Saints Blow Away Red Leafs (SMU Recap)

Freshman Emily Garten ranks third in the GNAC with 3.34 kills per set, and junior Jennifer Soha is second in the conference with a hitting percentage of .381. Do-it-all freshman Sirena Peredo, the reigning GNAC Offensive Player of the Week, is ninth in the GNAC with 3.39 digs per set and sixth in points per set with 3.40. Peredo completed the conference’s second 20-20 match of the season, with 22 kills and 20 digs in the Saints’ five-set defeat against Western Washington last Saturday.

RED LEAFS EYE BEST-EVER GNAC FINISH: The Saints aren’t the only team with a lot to play for on the final weekend of the regular season, as Simon Fraser has a chance for its best-ever finish in the GNAC standings. The Red Leafs enter Thursday’s match in fourth place, and could finish as high as a tie for second with the Wildcats. SFU’s best-ever GNAC finish since joining the conference in 2010 was a third-place finish in the 2016 standings when it went 14-6 in conference play.

Read More: Brooke Dexter Has Career Night (SFU Recap)

Jocelyn Sherman leads the SFU attack with 3.13 kills per set, ranking her fifth in the GNAC. Brooke Dexter is close behind in 12th with 2.54 kills per set, while Kalyn Hartmann ranks fifth in the GNAC in hitting percentage at .295. Sophomore Eva Person has had a productive season leading the SFU offense, ranking third in the conference with 8.74 assists per set.

VIKINGS FIGHTING TO FINISH .500: After playing perhaps the league’s most challenging non-conference schedule, Western Washington has righted the ship in the second half of league play and enters the final weekend on a four-match winning streak. The Vikings can salvage a .500 season with wins over Northwest Nazarene (11-13, 7-9) on Thursday before what figures to be a spirited encounter with the Wildcats on Saturday night at Carver Gym.

Read More: Vikings Extend Winning Streak With 5-Set Win (WWU Recap)          

Devyn Oestreich came up with a big weekend for WWU in its wins over Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s to earn the team’s first GNAC Player of the Week award of the 2023 season. The preseason all-conference pick ranks 11th in the GNAC with 2.55 kills per set and seventh with 3.43 digs per set. Standout freshman Emily Vossenkuhl ranks third in the GNAC behind Hair and Daoud-Hebert with 1.19 blocks per set, and Adele Holland is fifth in the conference with 6.52 assists per set.

ALASKAN RIVALRY CAPS THE SEASON: Alaska Anchorage (15-17, 7-10) and Alaska (14-17, 7-10) will decide which of the rivals finishes higher in the final standings when they meet on Thursday night in Anchorage to close their respective seasons. Nicole Blue has been the Seawolves’ top player this year, ranking fourth in the GNAC with 3.33 kills per set. Alaska’s Karli Nielson meanwhile ranks sixth in the conference with 2.93 kills per set.

Read more: Nanooks Invade For Thursday Senior Night Finale (UAA Preview)

MCMAHON TO FINISH CAREER AS ONE OF GNAC GREATS: Northwest Nazarene libero Caroline McMahon will play her final two matches in a Nighthawk uniform this weekend, and will wrap up one of the best careers by a defensive player in GNAC history. McMahon needs 16 digs this weekend to finish seventh in GNAC history, as she enters the week with 1,940 digs to her name. McMahon enters the week ranked third in the GNAC with 4.66 digs per set, and her career digs per set mark of 4.25 is 29th in the history of the conference.                       

GNAC Career Digs Leaders
Rank Player School Digs Career
1 Courtney Schneider Western Washington 2,695 2004-07
2 Samantha Hutchinson Western Washington 2,438 2011-14
3 Kyla Morgan Central Washington 2,342 2016-19
4 Anna Herold Seattle Pacific 2,316 2008-11
5 Alison McKay Simon Fraser 2,094 2013-16
6 Maggie Safranski Seattle 2,008 2002-05
7 Kaely Kight Central Washington 1,955 2011-14
8 Caroline McMahon Northwest Nazarene 1,940 2019-23
9 Abby Phelps Western Washington 1,915 2015-18
10 Christie Colasurdo Western Oregon 1,838 2013-16


HORNBACK LEADS THE WOU ATTACK: Western Oregon junior Madison Hornback has carried her team’s offense this season, entering the final weekend leading the GNAC with 3.61 kills per set. Chloe Asciutto and Bella MacLellan rank sixth and seventh in hitting percentage at .293 and .289, respectively. MacLellan is also in the top-10 in the league in blocks per set at 1.00, which ranks her seventh.

500 DIGS WITHIN REACH FOR FUNK: Montana State Billings junior libero Christine Funk will finish a historic campaign with the third-most single-season digs in program history, as she enters the week six shy of becoming the third Yellowjacket to collect 500 digs. Only Izela Alvarez (622 in 2017) and Erin Compton (577 in 2012) had more digs in one season at MSUB, as Funk enters the week leading the conference with 5.20 digs per set.

MSUB Volleyball - Single-Season Digs Leaders
Rank Player Digs Season
1 Izela Alvarez 622 2017
2 Erin Compton 577 2012
3 Christine Funk 494 2023
4 Diane Vargo 440 1998
5 Nicole Kruse 439 2006
6 Brandee Sayles 437 1997
  Gina Langer 437 1998
  Olivia Munro 437 2004
9 Diane Vargo 430 1997
10 Devon Crotteau 425 2007


Player to Watch

Morgan Halady – Central Washington


The Wildcats have put together a strong late-season run thanks in large part to GNAC Newcomer of the Year candidate Morgan Halady, who transferred to CWU after two years at Portland State. Halady has provided a boost across the team’s last five matches, racking up 27 total blocks in that span including her second-highest total of the season with seven in CWU’s sweep of Western Oregon on Oct. 28. Halady also came through on the offensive side of the ball in last week’s sweep of the Alaska schools, as she had her highest two-match kill total of the GNAC season with 11. In addition to ranking fifth in the conference with 1.08 blocks per set, Halady’s hitting percentage of .354 would rank her fourth in the league if she had enough attempts to qualify.


AVCA/TARAFLEX Top-25 Coaches Poll

The AVCA/TARAFLEX NCAA Division II rankings are released every Monday throughout the 2023 season.

The GNAC stood pat with a pair of teams in the latest AVCA rankings for the third consecutive week. Seattle Pacific slipped one spot to No. 19 while Central Washington stayed at No. 20 for the second week in a row.

Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
Preseason 14. UAA 15. WWU RV CWU RV SPU --
Sept. 4 21. UAA 22. WWU 23. CWU RV SPU --
Sept. 25 18. CWU 24. SPU RV WWU RV UAA RV SFU
Oct. 2 17. CWU 21. SPU RV SFU -- --
Oct. 9 16. CWU 22. SPU -- -- --
Oct. 16 18. CWU 22. SPU RV SFU -- --
Oct. 23 19. SPU 20. CWU RV SFU  -- --
Oct. 30 18. SPU 21. CWU -- -- --
Nov. 6 18. SPU 20. CWU -- -- --
Nov. 13 19. SPU 20. CWU -- -- --
GNAC Volleyball In The NCAA Statistical National Rankings

Through matches on Nov. 14.

Team Rankings (Top-30)
Aces Per Set: 25. SMU, 2.11
Blocks Per Set: 2. SPU, 2.81; 3. CWU, 2.76
Hitting Percentage: 24. CWU, .248
Win-Loss Percentage: 21. SPU, .833
Opponents Hitting Percentage: 28. SPU, .144
Assists: 17. UAA, 1,345
Kills: 21. UAA, 1,438
Total Attacks: 18. UAA, 4,168
Total Blocks: 12. UAA, 250.5; 13. SPU, 250.0; 20. UAF, 241.0; 28. CWU, 237.5
Individual Rankings (Top-50)
Service Aces Per Set: 8. Karla Soto, SMU, 0.60; 45. Emily Garten, SMU, 0.51
Assists Per Set: 28. Karla Soto, SMU, 10.39
Blocks Per Set: 1. Hannah Hair, SPU, 1.70; 2. Emma Daoud-Hebert, CWU, 1.48; 24. Emily Vossenkuhl, WWU, 1.19; 43. Tia Andaya, CWU, 1.10; 49. Morgan Halady, CWU, 1.08
Digs Per Set: 19. Christine Funk, MSUB, 5.20; 37. Hannah Stires, CWU, 4.97
Hitting Pct.: 23. Jennifer Soha, SMU, .381; 36. Emma Daoud-Hebert, CWU, .360
Service Aces: 18. Nicole Blue, UAA, 57; 21. Karla Soto, 56
Attacks: 17. Nicole Blue, UAA, 1,188
Blocks: 2. Hannah Hair, SPU, 148; 11. Emma Daoud-Hebert, CWU, 123; 30. Isabel Evans, UAA, 115
Digs: 39. Christine Funk, MSUB, 494
Kills: 29. Nicole Blue, UAA, 400
Triple Doubles: 7. Tia Andaya, CWU, 2

2023 GNAC Volleyball Players of the Week
Date Offensive Player of the Week Defensive Player of the Week
Aug. 28 Nicole Blue, Alaska Anchorage Elizabeth Jackson, Alaska
Sept. 5 Madison Hornback, Western Oregon Christine Funk, Montana State Billings
Sept. 11 Sarah Brachvogel, Seattle Pacific Hannah Stires, Central Washington
Sept. 18 Bethany Tuchardt, Alaska Anchorage Tia Andaya, Central Washington
Sept. 25 Brooke Dexter, Simon Fraser Caroline McMahon, Northwest Nazarene
Oct. 2 Scottie Ellsworth, Central Washington Hannah Hair, Seattle Pacific
Oct. 9 Karla Soto, Saint Martin's Sirena Peredo, Saint Martin's
Oct. 16 Brooke Dexter, Simon Fraser Emma Daoud-Hebert, Central Washington
Oct. 23 Karli Nielson, Alaska Hannah Hair, Seattle Pacific
Oct. 30 Madison Hornback, Western Oregon Hannah Hair, Seattle Pacific
Nov. 6 Emily Garten, Saint Martin's Reilly Plumhoff, Alaska Anchorage
Nov. 13 Sirena Peredo, Saint Martin's Devyn Oestreich, Western Washington

Nov. 13 GNAC Volleyball Players of the Week

Offensive Player of the Week – Sirena Peredo, Saint Martin’s

Second-career player of the week, second this season.

Peredo posted double-doubles in each of SMU’s matches last week, and became the second player in the GNAC this season to have a 20-20 match with 24 kills and 20 digs in a five-set battle against Western Washington. Peredo started the week with 13 kills and 12 digs in SMU’s victory over Simon Fraser, while adding two blocks, two assists and a service ace. The standout freshman has found her stride late in the season, with six of her 12 double-doubles coming in the last five weeks, including a stretch of three in-a-row.

“She is crafty and is not afraid to take big swings against a really good block,” said SMU head coach Dan Behnke. “Western has a very good defense that made her uncomfortable at times, but she kept at it. She has really good balance of when to hit hard and take some risk. She knows she has pretty good timing as to when she should mix up her shots. Sirena has done a good job of owning her position. She understands her limitations when it comes to her height, and she maximizes what she can from her game in the front row and the back row. She reads well and has had a successful year. She has been a part of why we have had some success, and it’s exciting to see her grow as a player.”

Also Nominated: Nicole Blue, UAA; Karli Nielson, UAF; Tia Andaya, CWU; Maren Dent, NNU; Brooke Dexter, SFU; Chloe Asciutto, WOU; Gabby Kepley, WWU.

Defensive Player of the Week – Devyn Oestreich, Western Washington

First-career player of the week.

An instrumental figure in Western Washington’s current four-match winning streak, Oestreich put up stellar defensive numbers in her team’s two victories last week. She started with 19 digs in the win over Western Oregon, while adding in eight kills on the offensive side. Oestreich then completed her 10th double-double of the year with 20 digs and 15 kills in the five-set victory over Saint Martin’s. Oestreich’s dig total was her second highest of the season, and she also chipped in a pair of blocks in the revenge win over the Saints.

“Devyn had an overall great weekend on both sides of the ball,” said WWU head coach Diane Flick-Williams. “Specifically on defense she was able to stop other hitters so we could create opportunities for ourselves. Saint Martin’s is a great defensive team and we needed somebody who could match their scrappiness. She’s a good reader of the game, and she kept us in lots of points by taking shots away from their big hitters. Devyn is one of the best all-around players we have in our conference. She does it in every facet of the game, and her block has really improved. She has been incredibly stable for us.”

Also Nominated: Madison Galloway, UAA; Cynphany Henderson, UAF; Emma Daoud-Hebert, CWU; Jennifer Soha, SMU; Kalyn Hartmann, SFU.

2023 All-Tournament Selections
Hawaii/Alaska Challenge 
Aug. 24-26 at Fairbanks, Alaska (Alaska, Host)
Alaska: Grace Steurer, OH; Karli Nielson, OH
Alaska Anchorage: Nicole Blue, OH; Makana Eleneki, S
Otter Classic
Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Seaside, Calif. (Cal State Monterey Bay, Host)
Northwest Nazarene: Maren Dent, OH - MVP; Caroline McMahon, L; Gabi Moore, S
Stanislaus State Labor Day Tournament
Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Turlock, Calif. (Cal State Stanislaus, Host)
Western Oregon: Madison Hornback, OH-MVP; Bailee Hartsook, OH
2023 Seawolf Invitational
Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Anchorage, Alaska (Alaska Anchorage, Host)
Alaska Anchorage: Leilani Elder, MB; Reilly Plumhoff, DS
Alaska: Ella Bines, RS
Yellowjacket Invitational
Sept. 1-2 at Billings, Mont. (Montana State Billings, Host)
Montana State Billings: Christine Funk, L; Julia Gordon, OH; Paiten Langston, MB)
2023 Yotes Classic Showcase
Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at San Bernardino, Calif. (Cal State San Bernardino, Host)
Central Washington: Tia Andaya, S
Western Washington: Delaney Speer, OH
2023 UCCS Mountain Lion Classic
Sept. 8-9 at Colorado Springs, Colo. (UC Colorado Springs, Host)
Saint Martin’s: Sirena Peredo, DS
Western Oregon: Madison Hornback, OH
Cougar Classic
Sept. 8-9 at San Marcos, Calif. (Cal State San Marcos, Host)
Seattle Pacific: Sarah Brachvogel, OH-MVP; Hannah Hair, MB; Emily Tulino, S; Allison Wilks, OH; Erin Smith, MB; Maddie Pruden, OPP
Denali State Bank Ice Block Classic
Sept. 7-9 at Fairbanks, Alaska (University of Alaska, Host)
Alaska Anchorage: Nicole Blue, OH
Alaska: Karli Nielson, OH; Lily Stewart, PIN
Up North Tournament
Sept. 8-9 at Duluth, Minn. (University of Minnesota Duluth, Host)
Central Washington: Tia Andaya, S/OH; Scottie Ellsworth, OH; Hannah Stires, DS/L
Reddie-Tiger Invitational
Sept. 15-16 at Arkadelphia, Ark. (Ouachita Baptist & Henderson State, Hosts)
Alaska Anchorage: Leilani Elder, MB; Bethany Tuchardt, OH