FAIRBANKS — It’s no surprise that Reilly Stevens and Allison Oddy developed a special friendship.
They’ve been Alaska Nanooks volleyball teammates since they were freshmen. They were roommates last season, and this week’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference matches against Seattle Pacific University and Montana State-Billings mark their last performances on the Patty Center court.
The ninth-place Nanooks
(3-11 GNAC, 5-15 overall) face the fifth-place Seattle Pacific Falcons at 7 tonight and take on sixth-place Montana State-Billings Yellowjackets at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Stevens, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter from Riverside, Calif., and Oddy, the Nanooks’ team captain and a 5-6 senior libero from Chilliwack, British Columbia, are scheduled to be honored before Saturday’s contest.
Stevens, said during an interview Tuesday morning in the University of Alaska Fairbanks sports information office in the Patty Center, described Oddy as “a complete, total volleyball player.”
“She’s so athletic and so fast, and she’s an amazing passer,” Stevens, a biology major, said.
“I love her and she’s one of my best friends I’ve ever had on a volleyball team,” Stevens said. “We are able to relate with everything because when I feel one way, she usually feels exactly the same. When we want to fight together, we really want to fight together because we know it’s our last hurrah.”
Oddy said their friendship has especially grown this season with them being the only seniors on a 13-player roster that includes six true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen.
“We both have the same ideas and goals, and we’re both into fitness and we’re hoping to get on that train when volleyball is over,” Oddy, a social work major, said during an interview in the UAF sports information office. “She’s a great girl and she’s just got a lot of good thoughts and I value her opinions.”
Oddy and Stevens have discussed competing in road races, such as marathons, or in fitness or bodybuilding competitions in the future. Their focus this week is helping the Nanooks try to succeed against Seattle Pacific (8-6, 11-12) and Montana State-Billings (7-7, 10-12) while savoring their last times playing in the Patty Center.
“She’s always encouraging to me and it means a lot,” Oddy said of Stevens.
The mutual encouragement has helped them rank in the top 20 in the GNAC this season for digs in overall matches. Oddy ranks seventh with 343 total digs in 76 sets for an average of 4.51, and Stevens ranks 18th with 194 in as many sets for a 2.55 average.
Oddy has a simple but effective philosophy of playing defense.
“Go as hard as you can, never stop moving,” she said. “Just to get in there and get those digs that no one thinks you’re going to get. Push yourself the whole time.”
Stevens has provided 135 kills this season, and she makes some contributions that don’t show up on a statistics sheet but impact the Nanooks.
“When I come onto the court, I try to look at what we need to do at that time,” Stevens said. “If we need to make sure that we’re making our serves, I try to make sure I’m making my serves. If we need some energy or something all crazy ... if someone needs to be crazy for the team, I usually like to try to do that.”
It’s somewhat crazy for both of them that their collegiate volleyball careers are winding down. After this week’s homestand, the Nanooks end the season with GNAC matches at Central Washington Nov. 15 and at Northwest Nazarene Nov. 17 in Nampa, Idaho.
Oddy, when she was a freshman, remembers the words of the Nanooks seniors during the team’s end-of-the-season banquet.
“One of our seniors, Megan Thigpen — and all of them, probably — were telling us that it goes by so fast, and so much faster than we think,” Oddy said. “And they’re so right.
“I can’t believe it; it feels like it was freshman year last year,” Oddy added. “I can’t believe that it’s over, that it’s really over.”
One thing each will take from their Nanooks careers is the influences of the coaching staff, particularly head coach Phil Shoemaker.
“He helped me realize what I love and what I value most in life,” Stevens said. “Volleyball wise, he always been there, and he’s very easy to talk to. He’s always been the ultimate coach to lean on, you can rely on him for most anything.”
The Nanooks have been able to rely on their two seniors this season.