It was a tale of two different games for SFU volleyball. The Clan easily handled Alaska Fairbanks 3–1; however, the next night it was a completely different story. SFU was swept 3–0 by Alaska Anchorage, its first Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) loss of the year. SFU’s record is now 10–2 overall, and 3–1 in conference play.
The first game was a dominant affair in which SFU was fully expected to win. Coming in, Fairbanks held a 2–7 overall record, compared to SFU’s 9–1. The key to SFU’s win was the depth in the team’s attack. Four SFU players finished with double-digits in kills, compared to just one for Fairbanks. They were also dominant defensively, holding their opponents to just nine kills in the third set.
“I thought our offence did a good job on the sideout for the most part — we were able to use the right side with a lot of success,” head coach Gina Schmidt told SFU Athletics. “Our blocking did a pretty good job against their outside hitters for the most part.”
However, it was a different story the next night. Alaska Anchorage came into the match with an ever better record than SFU, as they were 13–1 and SFU was 10–1. It was going to be a battle of the titans, a matchup to see who was the early favourite to win the GNAC title.
SFU was thoroughly outplayed. The team was swept in three straight sets, losing 3–0. The Clan was not able to get to 20 kills or more in a set. Unlike the first game, no SFU player finished with more than 10 kills — the highest being Tessa May with nine. Libero Alison McKay finished with 28 digs on the night, her second highest of conference play after the game against Western Washington.
“Anchorage is a good team,” Schmidt said to SFU Athletics. “They executed on both sides of the ball, and we weren’t able to find enough answers. For us, the biggest problem offensively was our first contact, and the initial setup for an attack.”
SFU is now 3–1 in conference play, good for a tie in second place in the GNAC, alongside Central Washington and Concordia-Irvine. However, looking to the future, one has to be concerned if this team will continue its success beyond this season. Star setter Tamara Nipp is in her last year of eligibility, alongside Emma Jennings, Alison McKay, and Devon May. For this success to continue beyond the season, the program will need to find a way to replace these key contributors.