PORTLAND, Ore. – After helping her team reach the NCAA Div. II national title match a season ago, Alaska Anchorage’s Leah Swiss was tabbed Wednesday as the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Volleyball Preseason Player of the Year. The junior outside hitter was joined by teammates Chrisalyn Johnson and Diana Fa’amausili on the GNAC Preseason All-Conference Team, which was chosen for the first time by a vote of the league’s head coaches.
The preseason squad was dominated by players from the five GNAC teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA West Regional Tournament, with 12 of the 14 players representing those programs. Northwest Nazarene equaled UAA’s three selections with senior middle blocker Madi Farrell, senior outside hitter Kendra Bodine and senior setter Hailey Cook. Central Washington, Simon Fraser and Western Washington each had two selections to the team, while Concordia-Portland and Western Oregon had one apiece.
Swiss, from Anchorage’s Dimond High School, earned D2CCA Second Team All-America honors and repeated as a First Team All-GNAC selection last year. The 6-footer led the Seawolves and finished second in the GNAC with an average of 3.56 kills per set and third with 0.38 aces per set, along with 2.77 digs per set and a .242 attack percentage. In addition to her team-best 15 double-doubles, Swiss made the NCAA West Regional Championships All-Tournament Team for the second straight year, helping UAA to a 34-3 overall record and its first-ever NCAA Elite Eight appearance.
Johnson, another junior outside hitter from Dimond, made the preseason squad after averaging 3.09 kills and 2.55 digs per set in 2016. She also had a big postseason for the Seawolves, earning All-NCAA Tournament Team honors at the Elite Eight for her big performances in the national quarterfinals and semifinals.
Meanwhile, Fa’amausili is the only sophomore on the preseason squad, coming off GNAC and AVCA West Region freshman-of-the-year honors. The 5-11 right-side hitter from Federal Way, Wash. (Kent-Meridian HS) finished the season with a .260 hitting percentage and averaged 2.75 kills per set. She also ranked eighth in the GNAC and 56th in Division II with 1.05 blocks per set.
The Seawolves – picked atop the GNAC preseason coaches’ poll and ranked No. 4 in the AVCA NCAA Div. II preseason top 25 poll – make their 2017 premiere Friday at 7 p.m. when they host an exhibition match against the Seawolf Alumni. Admission is free.
For UAA volleyball ticket information, call 907-786-1562 or visit GoSeawolves.com.
2017 GNAC Preseason Volleyball All-Conference Team
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
Leah Swiss UAA OH 6-0 Jr. Anchorage, Alaska (Dimond)
Madi Farrell NNU MB 6-2 Sr. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (Lake City)
Abby Phelps WWU OH 5-10 Jr. Manson, Wash. (Chelan)
Sabrina Wheelhouse CWU MB 6-3 Sr. Eugene, Ore. (Sheldon)
Kendra Bodine NNU OH 5-10 Sr. Eugene, Ore. (Churchill)
Tessa May SFU MB 6-3 Jr. Robert’s Creek, B.C. (Elphinstone)
Lindsey Dorsey CU RS 5-9 Sr. Salem, Ore. (Sprague)
Diana Fa’amausili UAA RS 5-11 So. Federal Way, Wash. (Kent-Meridian)
Arielle Turner WWU OH 5-10 Sr. Leavenworth, Wash. (Cascade)
Chrislayn Johnson UAA OH 5-8 Jr. Anchorage, Alaska (Dimond)
Hailey Cook NNU S 5-10 Sr. Nampa, Idaho (Skyview)
Alisha Bettinson WOU OH 5-11 Sr. Richland, Wash. (Richland)
Shelby Mauritson CWU OH 5-10 Jr. Madras, Ore. (Madras)
Christine Howlett SFU OH 5-11 Sr. Delta, B.C. (South Delta)