Seawolves, Vikings Open Season In AVCA Top-25 Poll
Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington is led by a pair of All-Americans in Leah Swiss (left) and Abby Phelps.
Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington is led by a pair of All-Americans in Leah Swiss (left) and Abby Phelps.

Monday, August 14, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fresh off the best volleyball season in conference history, Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington both represent the GNAC in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.

The Seawolves, the defending national runner-up and defending GNAC champions, open the season ranked No. 4 after ending 2016 with a No. 3 ranking. Alaska Anchorage received 1,002 points and was one of five teams to receive first place votes. The Vikings, who finished runner-up to the Seawolves in both the GNAC championship race and the NCAA West Regional, open the year ranked No. 12 with 632 points. The Vikings ended the 2016 season at No. 14.

In addition to the two top-25 teams, Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington were listed among 16 teams that received votes. The Crusaders were second on the list with 69 points while the Wildcats picked up 16 points.

The four teams look to lead the GNAC after the conference’s most dominant season ever. A record five conference teams were selected to compete at the NCAA Division II West Regional, which was hosted by Alaska Anchorage. Three of those programs advanced past the regional quarterfinals.

Alaska Anchorage finished 2016 with 34-3 record and set a GNAC record with a 19-1 conference mark. The Seawolves return four starters from last season, including Second Team All-American outside hitter Leah Swiss and junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson, who was named to the NCAA Championships All-Tournament Team.

Western Washington finished 2016 with a 23-8 overall record and went 17-3 in GNAC competition. The Vikings return all six starters from last year, led by Honorable Mention All-American outside hitter Abby Phelps and First Team All-GNAC outside hitter Arielle Turner.

Alaska Anchorage will begin its 2017 season on Sept. 1 at the Seaside Invitational with matches against Cal State LA and tournament host Point Loma. Western Washington opens the year at the Terrace Hotel Classic in Lakeland, Fla., facing defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Concordia-St. Paul and Pace on Sept. 1.