FAIRBANKS—The Alaska Nanooks volleyball team will be out to turn the tables on their intrastate rivals from Anchorage tonight at the Patty Center.
The Nanooks (4-13, 2-9 GNAC) would like nothing better than to end a four-match losing streak to the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (13-6, 8-3) when the two teams battle it out in a 7 p.m. Great Northwest Athletic Conference match.
The Seawolves rallied to claim a 3-2 victory in Anchorage a month ago, and the Nanooks, coming off a 3-0 sweep of the Saint Martin’s Saints, hope to return the favor.
“The bottom line is we need to play well,” Alaska coach Phil Shoemaker said. “I don’t think we have to do anything extraordinary, we just need to play well.
“UAA has a good team an I’m sure they will be fired up and ready to go,” Shoemaker continued Friday afternoon. “If we play well and avoid injury we should be in good shape.”
A knee injury to Ixchelle Oleson during the third set of the match in Anchorage was a key factor in the Nanooks’ loss.
Oleson is scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday, and if all goes well she could be back in the Nanooks lineup next season.
Oleson was one of four freshman in the Alaska lineup when she injured her knee. The Seawolves also have a number of freshmen in the starting lineup, so it hasn’t taken long for the young Nanooks to get into the rivalry.
“The great thing about this rivalry is we both start three freshmen, so we’re going to be battling against each other for the next four years,” Nanooks setter Katlyn Mataya said after last weekend’s match with Saint Martin’s. “It’s going to be intense every time we play them.”
Shoemaker said both teams will be ready to go when the first serve is made tonight.
“We have a good plan for going at them and I’m sure they will have one for us, so it should be a good one,” the veteran Nanooks coach said.
Both teams recorded sweeps against Saint Martin’s last week and lost 3-1 against Western Oregon.
Nanooks outside hitter Sam Harthun comes into the match as the GNAC’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week after recording 36 kills and a .413 attack percentage against Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s.
Mataya, a freshman setter, ranks fourth in the GNAC with 9.84 assists per set. Harthun ranks sixth in points (3.73 points per set) and seventh in kills at 3.32 per set. Senior libero Allison Oddy ranks seventh in digs at 4.35).
Seawolves setter Kimya Jafroudi leads the conference in aces with 36 and is second with 10.91 assists per set. Jodi Huddleston is fifth in hitting (.316) while Katelynn Zanders is sixth in kills (3.06) and eighth in points (3.58). Siobhan Johansen ranks sixth in digs (4.41) and former West Valley standout Julia Mackey is ninth in kills (3.06) and points (3.45).
Mackey will be making her first appearance in Fairbanks since completing her high school career in 2011.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at *459-7581.