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Redshirt sophomore Breanne Sytnyk and the Seawolves face a pair of fellow 2013 playoff qualifiers in their season-opening SpringHill Suites Invitational this weekend at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Courtesy: Sam Wasson/UAA Athletics

Spikers open new arena with SpringHill Suites Invitational

Courtesy: UAA Media Relations
Release: 09/01/2014
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THIS WEEK IN SEAWOLF VOLLEYBALL...

18th annual
SpringHill Suites Invitational
Alaska Airlines Center – Anchorage, Alaska
All Times ADT
Friday, Sept. 5
9 am – Saint Leo (0-0) vs Alaska Anchorage (0-0)
1 pm – LIU Post (0-0) vs Saint Leo
7 pm – LIU Post vs Alaska Anchorage
Saturday, Sept. 6
9 am – LIU Post vs Alaska Anchorage
Noon – Saint Leo vs LIU Post
7 pm – Saint Leo vs Alaska Anchorage

UAA PROBABLE STARTERS (2013 stats or notes)
S—Morgan Hooe, 5-7, So. (4.50 asst/set, 1.95 dps, .311 att%)
MB—Breanne Sytnyk, 6-0, So. (1.28 kps, 0.84 bps in 2012) or Caitlin McInerney, 5-11 (1.03 kps, 1.00 bps)
MB—Erin Braun, 6-0, So. (1.42 kps, 0.99 bps, .312 att%)
OH—Katelynn Zanders, 5-9, Jr. (3.69 kps, .237 att%, 0.54 bps, 33 aces)
OH—Brooke Pottle, 5-8, Sr. (2.31 kps, 2.66 dps, .154 att%) or Leah Swiss, 6-0, Fr. (2-time AK Gatorade POY)
RS—Julia Mackey, 5-11, Jr. (3.20 kps, .269 att%, 0.63 bps)
L—Quinn Barker, 5-4, Sr. (4.64 dps, 25 aces, 0.69 asst/set)

A NEW DEN: This weekend will mark the first regular-season sporting events at UAA’s brand-new home in the Alaska Airlines Center ... the SpringHill Suites Invitational will serve as the cornerstone for the center’s Grand Opening Week, which will extend through Sept. 14 with campus and community events and concerts ... prior to this season, UAA played at the 1,000-seat Wells Fargo Sports Complex since the volleyball program’s founding in 1980.

BRIEF SEASON PREVIEW: The Seawolves return 10 letterwinners -- including four starters and their libero -- from last year’s team that went 21-10 overall and finished second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference at 15-3 ... UAA will have one of hte top front rows in the West Region, with returning All-American and unanimous All-GNAC pick Katelynn Zanders on the outside, two-time All-GNAC performer Julia Mackey on the right side, and reigning GNAC Freshman of the Year Erin Baun in the middle ... GNAC Newcomer of the Year Quinn Barker returns at libero, while Morgan Hooe will provide a veteran presence at setter following a solid freshman year ... UAA has three seniors in 2014, with Barker joined by outside hitter Brooke Pottle and right-side hiter Maureen Sabado ... two freshmen also figure to push the veterans for playing time, with local Dimond HS standout Leah Swiss at outside hitter and Las Vegas product Kristi Farley at setter.

2013 SEASON RECAP: The Alaska Anchorage volleyball team earned its fourth NCAA Tournament bid in the past five seasons and extended the program record with its sixth straight winning season, finishing 21-10 overall in 2013 … the Seawolves went 15-3 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to place runner-up by just one match, while marking their fifth consecutive winning record and top-4 league finish … UAA also set program records with its 9-0 GNAC road record and 9-0 start to the league campaign … individually, So. OH Katelynn Zanders earned AVCA 2nd Team All-America and unanimous All-GNAC honors, while So. RS Julia Mackey was also an all-league performer … the Seawolves also did well in the major GNAC awards, earning the co-Coach of the Year (Chris Green), Newcomer of the Year (Quinn Barker) and Freshman of the Year (Erin Braun).

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS: Saint Leo is coming off records of 23-11 overall and 10-6 (3rd pl.) in the Sunshine State Conference in 2013, earning and NCAA Tournament ... the Lions, picked to finish 4th in the SSC’s preseason poll, return three starters and their libero from a year ago -- all of whom are seniors ... SLU is located in the Tampa, Fla., suburbs ... LIU Post (alternately known as C.W. Post) is coming off its first-ever East Region title in 2013 and is the favorite to repeat its East Coast Conference title, according to the league’s preseason poll ... the Pioneers went 25-10 overall last year and return three key senior starters as well ... LIU Post is located in Brookville, N.Y., on the north shore of Long Island.

SERIES RECORDS VS...
SAINT LEO: UAA leads 1-0 (0-0 in Anchorage)
   Last Meeting: UAA 3-1 (8/27/04 at SLU)
LIU-POST: First meetings

SPRINGHILL SUITES HISTORY & FORMAT: This will be the 18th annual SpringHill Suites Invitational, although this year’s event will not feature a traditional tournament format ... the teams will play a double round-robin in 2014, with a Most Outstanding Player and 5-member All-Tournament Team announced at the conclusion of Saturday’s final match.

TEAM NOTES: The 2013 Seawolves made the program’s fourth trip in five years and sixth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance (1989, 1990, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013) … UAA’s last two NCAA matches have now come against the eventual national runner-up (BYU-Hawaii in 2013, Cal St. San Bernardino in 2011) … UAA posted its fifth consecutive top-4 GNAC finish in 2013, including four top-3 showings in that span … with a 9-0 road mark, the 2013 Seawolves set a school record for league play, bettering the 7-1 record in 2009 when the league had nine teams … UAA’s 9-0 start to GNAC play was its best since the league’s founding in 2001 and matched the 6th-longest win streak in program history … the Seawolves led the 2013 GNAC stats in aces (1.50 ace/set) and ranked No. 2 in three of the other six major stats categories — attack percentage (.221), assists per set (12.46) and kills per set (13.20) … in the NCAA Div. II national stats, UAA was 35th in blocks per set (2.25), 37th in assists, 41st in attack pct., and 45th in kills … with a 10-4 mark in 2013, UAA finished 47-11 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex since 2009; the Seawolves are moving to the brand-new Alaska Airlines Center this fall … the Seawolves are now 9-25 against ranked opponents under head coach Chris Green; prior to Green’s arrival in 2008, UAA had lost 32 straight matches to ranked foes.

ZANDERS ZAPS ’EM: Jr. OH Katelynn Zanders became the third All-American in UAA volleyball history — all under head coach Chris Green — when she was chosen to the 2013 AVCA All-America Second Team … the South Anchorage HS product was also one of six unanimous All-GNAC picks, ranking 3rd in the GNAC in kills per set (3.69) and points per set (4.28), 5th in aces per set (0.29) and 19th in digs per set (2.75) … Zanders led the Seawolves with 13 double-doubles and four performances of 20-plus kills in 2013, including a season-high 22 in a road win over No. 7 Western Washington, and was a 3-time GNAC Red Lion Offensive Player of the Week … on UAA’s single-season lists, Zanders ranked 8th in kills per set and 10th in total kills with 399 … on the program’s career lists, she begins 2014 at 4th in kills per set (3.47) and 16th in total kills (676).

BIG MACKEY ATTACK: Jr. RS Julia Mackey earned All-GNAC honors for the second straight year in 2013, despite missing nine of the last 10 matches due to injury … before being sidelined, the Fairbanks (West Valley HS) native helped the Seawolves to a 9-0 start in conference play with GNAC-only numbers of 3.53 kps and .348 hitting, notching 11 or more kills in each match … in the overall league stats, Mackey finished 9th in both attack pct. (.269) and kills  per set (3.20), making her one of just three GNAC players to hit at least .250 with 3.00 kps … on the Seawolves’ career lists, she begins her junior season 7th in kills per set (3.16) and 8th in attack pct. (.259).

THE MIGHTY QUINN: Sr. L Quinn Barker earned honorable mention all-league accolades and was the 2013 GNAC Newcomer of the Year … Barker ranked 4th in the GNAC and 3rd on UAA’s single-season list with 4.64 digs per set, boosted by 10 performances of 20-plus digs … the Mission Viejo, Calif. (Trabuco Hills HS) native and Central Arizona College transfer equaled her a season-high for the third time with 25 digs in UAA’s playoff-clinching road sweep of Seattle Pacific in the regular-season finale, earning her third GNAC Red Lion Defensive Player of the Week honor in the process … Barker also made the all-tournament teams at both the 2013 SpringHill Suites and UCSD invitationals.

BRAUN TOP FROSH: So. MB Erin Braun’s selection last fall made it two straight GNAC Freshman of the Year awards for UAA, following Julia Mackey in 2012 … Braun ranked 4th in the league with a .312 attack percentage — breaking UAA’s 33-year-old freshman record — and 11th in blocks per set at 0.99 … the San Bernardino, Calif. (Cajon HS) product recorded her season-high 10 kills in the victory at No. 7 Western Washington, along with 9 blocks in just three sets as UAA swept Simon Fraser in its home finale.

MORE ’WOLF BITES: Sr. OH Brooke Pottle helped UAA’s 2013 playoff run by posting five double-doubles in the last 10 matches and raising her kills average to 2.75 after the loss of Julia Mackey to injury … overall, Pottle was third on the team in both kills (2.31 kps) and digs (2.66 dps), notching 15 kills and 16 digs to help UAA fend off an upset bid by UAF on Nov. 9 … the transfer from Glendale (Ariz.) College had seven double-digit kills performances and 13 double-digit digs showings … Sr. RS Maureen Sabado has delivered at least three kills in 30 straight matches after being shut out in the 2013 season-opener … the Kodiak native notched a career-high-tying 10 kills on .688 hitting in last year’s sweep of Simon Fraser, and she hit .600 in the final two matches of the regular season at MSUB and SPU …  So. S Morgan Hooe split time at setter in UAA’s ‘6-2’ offense as a freshman, ranking 13th in both assists (4.55 asst/set) and aces (0.26 ace/set) in the GNAC.

GRASS IS GREENER: Entering his 7th season at the Seawolf helm in 2014, Chris Green (111-60) earned his second GNAC Coach of the Year award a year ago. Green has quickly established himself as one of the top coaches in the NCAA Div. II ranks, having led UAA to a program-best six straight winning campaigns and four NCAA Tournament berths in five seasons. (In the 28 years before Green’s arrival, the Seawolves made two NCAAs.) After helping the Seawolves to a 10-win turnaround in his first campaign, Green earned both GNAC and NCAA Div. II West Region coach-of-the-year honors in 2009 when he piloted UAA to the GNAC title and the program’s first-ever NCAA victory. In 2011, Green led the Seawolves to their third straight NCAA Tournament bid and an 18-9 record. Green’s UAA teams have also produced three All-Americans (Rhea Cardwell, 2008; Robyn Burton, 2011; Katelynn Zanders, 2013), two GNAC Players of the Year (Jackie Matthisen, 2011; Calli Scott, 2009), four GNAC Newcomers of the Year (Scott, 2008; Kimya Jafroudi, 2011; Jodi Huddleston, 2012; Quinn Barker, 2013) and two GNAC Freshmen of the Year (Julia Mackey, 2012; Erin Braun, 2013). Hired in Feb. 2008 as the sixth coach in UAA Volleyball history, Green spent the previous nine seasons (1999-07) as the head coach at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Neb., where he built a powerhouse program. Among his list of accomplishments at WNCC were a 453-55 record, the 2007 NJCAA Div. I national championship, 2006 NJCAA runner-up, and four straight ‘Final 4’ berths. The Cougars finished in the top 10 at the national tournament in all of Green’s seasons, producing a total of 10 first-team and six second-team All-America certificates. In 2011, he was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame. Green is assisted in 2014 by Nicky Rose (15th season) and student assistant Gaynor Johansen (5th season).

‘WOLVES TABBED 2ND: The Seawolves were picked to finish second in the 2014 Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason coaches’ poll, released Aug. 20. Here is a look at the poll:

2014 Great Northwest Athletic Conference
Preseason Volleyball Coaches’ Poll
Rk Team                   2013 Records        Pts
1. Western Washington (8) 23-4 (16-2, 1st)    80
2. Alaska Anchorage (1)   21-10 (15-3, 2nd)   70
3. Northwest Nazarene (1) 18-6 (14-4, 3rd)    69
4. Central Washington     15-12 (11-7, 4th-T) 53
5. Seattle Pacific        15-11 (11-7, 4th-T) 52
6. Western Oregon         10-18 (7-11, 6th)   38
7. Simon Fraser           11-13 (6-12, 7th)   30
8. Montana State Billings 7-20 (4-14, 8th)    25
9. Saint Martin’s         7-23 (3-15, 9th-T)  17
10. Alaska Fairbanks      4-25 (3-15, 9th-T)  16
(Note: First-place votes in parentheses.  Points awarded on a 9-8-7-6-5-4--3-2-1 basis. Each coach ranked other nine teams).

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