On Monday, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks finally got their volleyball season started.
It was just opening day, the Nanooks split the two games they played, and there’s still a lot of games left to go. Still, for the first time in what feels like forever, there was college volleyball being played by an Alaskan team. That alone is good news to cherish.
As mentioned, day one of the UAF volleyball season ended with the Nanooks splitting their two games. They started the day off with a 3-1 loss to Azusa Pacific in the morning before bouncing back with a four-set victory over Biola in the afternoon. UAF is now 1-1 on the year, but they could be 0-2 and probably still be happy just playing volleyball again.
The Nanooks dropped the first set against the Cougars 25-22, hanging in there throughout thanks in part to a hot start. UAF got as close as 11-12 before APU scored four straight to go up 16-11. UAF battled at the end to close the gap but still ended up falling.
The second set wasn’t as competitive with APU jumping out to a 6-0 lead. Ultimately, the Cougars took the set 25-13 to go up 2-0.
The third set saw the Nanooks take control away from the Cougars, if only for a set. After falling behind 7-8, UAF rallied to go up 18-13 thanks in large part to the outstanding play of Lahra Weber and Cate Whiting. UAF ultimately took the set 25-20.
Unfortunately, that third set steal used up all of the gas the Nanooks had left in the tank. UAF fell behind 7-13 before losing the set 15-25. AveRee Reynolds and Rilee White lead the Nanooks with nine kills each, Weber added eight, and Emily Moorhead chipped in seven. Whiting had 29 assists and 16 digs.
In game two of the day, UAF found their composure and earned win number one of the infant season. It took a moment to get there, however.
Trying to shake off the loss earlier in the day, the Nanooks dropped the first set against Biola 22-25, but rattled off three straight wins to take the game. After falling behind 1-4 in set two, UAF began to battle back until they found themselves ahead 24-22, needing one point to take the set. Biola began challenging again after that as the two teams had to go past 25. Eventually, though, Colleen File earned the set-winning kill to give the Nanooks a 28-26 victory.
The third set was just as wild as the two teams were tied 17 times, but UAF ultimately took a 25-23 win. Set four was just as much of a battle, but UAF eventually came out with a 25-22 win to take the match.
White led the Nanooks with 13 kills in game two, a career high for the freshman. Weber and Zoey Keene each added 11 kills, Whiting put up 26 assists and 14 digs, and Dani Dodge led the team with 18 digs while adding eight assists.
UAF was scheduled to continue play on Tuesday against Concordia University Irvine in Irvine, California at 6 pm AKT. That game concluded after press time. The first three games of the season are all on the road in California for UAF.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at Hpisani@newsminer.com, 459-7530, or on Twitter @Hpisani91.