FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks experience their first Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball games of the season this week, including an encounter against an opponent that was previously nationally ranked.
The Nanooks, 1-1 GNAC and 2-11 overall, visit Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, at 5 p.m. ADT today.
The Nanooks head west to Ellensburg, Wash., for Saturday’s 6 p.m. contest against Central Washington University, which had been ranked 24th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll of NCAA Division II teams since the start of the season but dropped out of the top-25 rankings this week.
The Nanooks are coming off a home conference split last week at the Patty Center. Alaska captured its first win of the season with a sweep of the Montana State Billings Yellowjackets on Thursday and were then swept by the Seattle Pacific Falcons on Saturday.
Sophomore outside hitter Sam Harthun, the reigning GNAC Co-Player of the Week, leads the Nanooks with 173 kills and 23 service aces. Freshman setter Katelyn Camp has a team-high 341 assists, while junior libero Tessa Butterfield leads with 128 digs. Middle blocker and fellow junior Morgan McGrath tops the Nanooks with 24 total blocks.
The Nanooks are facing a Northwest Nazarene squad that’s on a five-game winning streak, including wins last week at Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Wash., and Western Oregon in Monmouth, Ore.
The Crusaders (2-0, 6-2) are sparked the Terpstra sisters, Andrea and Michelle. Andrea, a redshirt junior middle blocker, leads the team with 108 kills and a .355 hitting percentage while Michelle, a junior setter, leads in assists with 288.
The Wildcats of Central Washington still received votes in this week’s AVCA poll after splitting last week at Saint Martin’s (win) and Western Oregon (loss).
The Wildcats are No. 2 in the GNAC for kills per set (13.38) and assists per set (12.44). Four players are averaging at least 2.63 kills per set and four are also hitting better than .215, led by a .273 percentage from redshirt sophomore middle blocker Kaitlin Quirk.
Catie Fry, a Wildcats redshirt sophomore setter, leads the GNAC with 430 total assists. Her assists per set (11.03) rank second in the GNAC and 14th in Division II.
The Nanooks are back at the Patty Center on Thursday, Oct. 3 and Saturday, Oct. 5 for a pair of GNAC contest.
Alaska faces Saint Martin’s at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 and plays at 1 p.m. Oct. 5 against Western Oregon.