The overall weekend may have been a split and the loss may have been a sweep, but the 2021 University of Alaska at Fairbanks volleyball team can now claim to have done something that no Nanook volleyball team has done since 2010: Win in Anchorage.
UAF and the University of Alaska at Anchorage faced off in a two game volleyball battle on Friday and Saturday. While UAF was swept by the Seawolves in Friday’s game, the Nanooks earned a hard-fought five set win over UAA on Saturday for the ‘Nooks first win in Anchorage in 11 years. UAF is now 4-3 on the season.
Friday’s game didn’t go the way UAF wanted. While the Nanooks improved in each set, they were still swept 10-25, 17-25, and 21-25 despite an excellent, 11-kill effort by AveRee Reynolds.
Saturday’s game, however, had UAF celebrating like they hadn’t done since Sept. 18, 2010.
UAF collected the win 23-25, 25-23, 25-19, 5-25, and 15-13 over their bitter rival. The two teams battled evenly the first two sets with each team taking one by an identical score.
UAF displayed a ton of heart in the third set. After falling behind 4-9, they flipped the script and eventually went up 20-16. UAA managed to get as close as 23-19, but the Nanooks took the final two points of the set to earn the win.
Things looked bleak for the ‘Nooks after set four. UAF never got close in dropping the set 25-5. They needed a bounce back effort if they were to collect the next set and take the match.
A bounce back effort is exactly what they got.
The two teams traded points to a 7-7 tie before Fairbanks started to surge. They rattled off four unanswered points to go up 11-7. Anchorage wouldn’t go down easily, however, as they scored five unanswered points of their own to tie the game at 11-11. Lahra Weber and Reynolds answered with a kill each and an ace from Zoey Keene gave UAF the set, the match and bragging rights they haven’t had in over a decade.
Weber led the way with 16 kills and nine digs. Reynolds wasn’t far behind in registering 11 kills and three digs. Dani Dodge (19), Cate Whitling (13), and Rilee White (10) were the dig leader for UAF. Whitling led the team with 27 assists.
UAF will be back in action this weekend with two games against Northwest Nazarene on Friday and Saturday. The Nanooks swept NNU the last time they played each other so the series provides UAF an opportunity to stay above .500 on the season.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at Hpisani@newsminer.com, 459-7530, or on Twitter @Hpisani91.