Alaska Anchorage Opens Season In WBCA Preseason Poll
Head coach Ryan McCarthy guided the Seawolves to a 31-2 overall record and a GNAC championship in 2019-20.
Head coach Ryan McCarthy guided the Seawolves to a 31-2 overall record and a GNAC championship in 2019-20.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

LILBURN, Ga. – It’s a familiar place for Alaska Anchorage.

After playing just three games in the COVID-challenged 2020-21 season, the Seawolves open the 2021-22 season ranked No. 12 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll, released on Tuesday.

Alaska Anchorage is one of three West Region teams to make the top 25. Azusa Pacific enters the season at No. 5 while Hawaii Pacific enters at No. 25.

Western Washington, which played to a 6-0 mark in the 2020-21 season, was fifth among teams receiving votes with 47 points.

Picked to win the GNAC in October’s Preseason Coaches Poll, Alaska Anchorage rolled through the 2019-20 season, going 19-1 in conference and 31-2 overall while outscoring their opponents by 21 points per game. The Seawolves were 3-0 in abbreviated action in spring 2021. Five-time GNAC Coach of the Year Ryan McCarthy will enter his tenth season at UAA without two 2019-2020 First Team All-GNAC players in Safiyyah Yasin, the 2020 GNAC Championships MVP, and Yazmeen Goo.

Plenty of impact players do return, including GNAC Preseason All-Conference selection Tennae Voliva (9.4 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game and .481 field goal percentage in 2019-20) and Jahnna Hajdukovich (6 points per game, .378 three-point percentage in 2019-20). Returning guard Stephanie Jackson scored 13.7 points per game in the brief 2020-21 season. The Seawolves also welcome Miyah Lewis-Hampton, a transfer from Division I San Jose State.

Western Washington is picked second in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll. Western Washington advanced to the finals of the 2020 GNAC Championships after finishing the regular season third with a 14-6 record (22-9 overall). The Vikings went 6-0 in 2020-21. Head Coach Carmen Dolfo begins her 31st season at WWU. Dolfo is the winningest coach in GNAC history. In 2020-21, Western Washington led the GNAC in rebounds per game (40.2) and free throw percentage (.743).

The Vikings will lose their 2020-21 second-leading scorer in Kelsey Rogers, but top scorer Mollie Olson (11.5 points per game, .439 field goal percentage in 2020-21) returns, along with GNAC Preseason All-Conference selections Dani Iwami (9.2 points per game in 2020-21) and Emma Duff (7.5 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game in 2020-21). The Vikings can also work in a deep recruiting class of five freshmen or Brooke Walling, a 6-foot-3 transfer from Division I Fresno State, into the lineup.

Alaska Anchorage opens its season on Friday, traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on Johnson and Wales. Western Washington plays an exhibition at Oregon State on Saturday before opening the season on November 12 against Humboldt State in Seattle.

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