Volleyball hits road to face Saint Martin’s, Western Oregon

Alaska takes on its first GNAC road trip with contests against Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon this week.

Jamie Foland

The Alaska volleyball team continues Great Northwest Athletic Conference play this week as it travels down to Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon in its first two road conference matches.

The Nanooks (2-6, 0-2 GNAC) first take on the Saint Martin’s (2-3 overall) Thursday evening, followed by a Saturday night match-up against the Wolves (7-2 overall). This week also marks the first two conference matches for SMU and WOU as both squads took on non-conference foes last week.  First serve is set for 6 p.m. in both contests. Live stats and live video is available for both matches.

“We’re another week older and a little more experienced and mature,” head coach Phil Shoemaker said. “We got a taste of [the GNAC] last weekend and that’s always a good thing, especially for the young players. The intensity level certainly changes once you start conference play.”

The ‘Nooks opened GNAC play last week with a pair of 3-0 home losses to Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington. Junior outside hitter Keri Knight turned in a career week as she tallied 27 kills with a .455 (27-7-44) hitting percentage. Saturday against CWU, Knight registered a career-high 19 kills to go with a career-best .536 (19-4-28) hitting percentage.

“One thing we can always count on Keri for is that she’s going to work as hard as she possibly can,” Shoemaker said. “She had been getting varying amounts of playing time over the first couple weeks of the season and we had a couple conversations on things she could work on to help improve that. As good as [her performance] was we’re convinced that it’s a repeatable performance. Good things happen to people who work hard and listen.”

Other notable performers included freshman outside hitter Sam Harthun and freshman setter Katlyn Mataya. Harthun had 19 kills and hit .244 (19-8-45) to go with four blocks while Mataya produced 57 assists and 15 digs. In the latest NCAA Division II national rankings, Mataya ranks 48th in the country with 9.8 assists per set.

Match #9: Alaska at Saint Martin’s – Thursday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. (AKDT)
Important Links: LIVE STATS   LIVE VIDEO
Saint Martin’s concluded non-conference play last week with a pair of straight-set victories on the road to move to 2-3 on the year. The Saints downed New Hope Christian College before defeating Walla Walla on Saturday. SMU gave up just 36 points to NHCC and 38 points at WWU. They were led by Kristyn Ross and Katy Ferguson in the wins. Ross led all players with 19 kills and hit .351 (19-6-37) to go with 28 total digs and three service aces. Ferguson had the best hitting percentage with a .536 (18-3-28) clip as she totaled 18 terminations and four aces.

Match #10: Alaska at Western Oregon – Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. (AKDT)
Important Links: LIVE STATS   LIVE VIDEO
Western Oregon, which is receiving votes in the latest AVCA Division II Coaches Poll, also won twice against non-conference adversaries to improve to 7-2 this season. The Wolves took down Willamette on Wednesday, followed by Walla Walla on Friday, both by 3-0 scores. Danielle Reese led the team with 25 total kills, a .357 (25-5-56) hitting percentage, seven service aces and 18 digs. Other key contributors included Hannah Deede and Cherene O’Hara. Deede tallied 15 kills, five blocks, four aces as well as having a .500 (15-2-26) hitting percentage while O’Hara totaled 13 terminations, seven blocks and hit a team-best .522 (13-1-23) for the week.