Behind a career-best 31 kills by freshman outside hitter Sam Harthun, the Alaska volleyball team was able to come out on the winning end of a Great Northwest Athletic Conference thriller against Simon Fraser, 3-2, on Thursday night at West Gymnasium.
The Nanooks improved to 5-14 on the year and 3-10 in conference play after winning the match by set scores of 31-29, 23-25, 30-28, 23-25, 15-13 while the Clan fell to 4-17 overall and 1-13 in the GNAC.
Harthun’s kill total is tied for second best in program history for a single match, equaling alum and current assistant coach Mallory (Bergstrom) Larranaga’s mark, set back on Sept. 10, 2004 against Western Oregon.
She also hit .309 (31-10-68) after attempting a season-high 68 attempts and produced 10 digs and a pair of block assists. Freshman setter Katlyn Mataya dished out a career-high 61 assists, 12 above her previous best as well as 18 digs, also a career-best. Junior outside hitter Keri Knight and freshman middle blocker Megan Morrison also chipped in double-figure kill totals with 15 and 12, respectively. Five players tallied 10 or more digs, led by senior libero Allison Oddy, who had 22.
Katie Forsyth led the Clan’s attack with 24 terminations and a .297 hitting percentage (24-5-64). Madeline Hait and Amanda van Duynhoven each accrued nine kills, respectively, while Hait had a match-high eight block assists. Tamara Nipp had 49 dimes and Alanna Chan led all spikers with 24 digs while Amanda Rankema notched seven total blocks (one solo).
Despite being outhit .202 to .189, the Nanooks, who won on the road for the first time in 2012, totaled 76 kills to SFU’s 62 but had 36 attack errors, to the Clan’s 24. Simon Fraser outscored Alaska 16-5 on the block and 9-5 on service aces but the Nanooks won the assist (73-59) and dig (95-81) battles.
The winning team of each set won by a mere two points but it was Alaska outscoring SFU 122-120.
In the first, Alaska led 16-15, but five Clan kills, an ace and two Alaska errors gave way for an 8-1 run to give the hosts a 23-18 lead. A service ace by Simon Fraser sparked a 4-0 run to trim the deficit to two but Forsyth put the Clan on set point with a kill to make it 24-22. Trailing 27-26 after holding off SFU on three set points, the ‘Nooks got a pair of Knight terminations to go up 28-27 but Forsyth came right back with two of her own to make it 29-28 SFU. Knight once again came through and after a Harthun kill, Mataya played the dump game and got the kill to win it for Alaska, 31-29.
Alaska jumped out to an early 7-1 and held control for most of the second. Leading 21-15 late, the Clan reeled off eight straight, five coming by way of Alaska attack errors and SFU took a 23-21 lead. Mataya had a kill to cut it to one and Harthun had a kill to keep the set alive, but Forsyth tied the match at 1-1 with a kill to give the home team a 25-23 set victory.
The third went back and forth but neither squad could take control. Trailing 18-15, Alaska squared it up with three straight but SFU kept applying pressure taking the lead four more times. Down 23-22, the Nanooks took advantage of a Danielle Curtis error and a Harthun slam gave Alaska set point at 24-23. SFU staved off five straight set points but with the frame tied at 28 apiece, Reilly Stevens gave the ‘Nooks a 29-28 lead with a kill and Rankema committed an error to give the set to Alaska, 30-28.
We jump late into the fourth with Alaska leading 22-19 after never trailing. After a Harthun service blunder and Knight attack error, Curtis and Forsyth produced kills to give SFU the 23-22 lead. Another Knight error gave it set point but after she came back with a kill to trim the deficit to 24-23, Knight was blocked by Rankema and Nipp and SFU forced the fifth set.
The Clan led 8-6 ion the fifth but a Knight kill and two SFU errors gave the 9-8 lead to Alaska. Tied at 9-9, Harthun had two kills to give her team a two-point lead, but Forsyth’s kill and Nipp’s ace squared it again at 11-11. After teams traded points, Harthun and Morrison had terminations to give Alaska a match-point opportunity, leading 14-12. Van Duynhoven kept the match alive with a kill, but on the ensuing serve, Hait hit it long to give Alaska its first road win of the year.
Alaska heads to Bellingham, Wash., to face No. 17 Western Washington on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. (AKDT). The Vikings (19-3, 12-2) swept Alaska Anchorage (14-7, 9-4) earlier Thursday.