FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Nanooks played in their final game of the 2019 season, taking on the Saint Martin's Saints.
The Alaska Nanooks win 3-1 over the Saint Martin's Saints on Senior Day (November 23, 2019)
Alaska gave up the first set 25-22, but dominated in the final three to win 3-1. The Nooks were led by Lahra Weber's 13 kills, 12 digs and 4 aces, while Cate Whiting dished out 43 assists. Alaska had one of their most dominant sets of the year, winning 25-5 in the third set over the Saints.
The Nanooks said goodbye to three players sending off Kim Wong, Tatum Upchurch and Mica Chen.
"These three are huge impact on this program,” said Head Coach Brian Scott. “First kid I ever signed [Pointing to Kim Wong], talk about an impact she has on that program. Ridiculously, you know when Kimi does something good out there on the court. The whole crowd knows and I have little kids coming up to me talking to me how much they love Kim Kong. That's what I call her all the time, Kim Kong.
The post-game press conference was full of emotion and tears, as Scott talked about that one of the first kids he watched as a coach in Alaska was Upchurch when she played for the South Anchorage Wolverines.
“First kid I ever went and watched as a head coach was Tatum at South high school. Rob and I were sitting there watching and she hits a couple of balls and we turn to each other and this the kind of Alaska athlete we got to start getting. We've got to win these kids." said Coach Scott.
The three athletes helped Alaska turn its fortunes around as a program, with the Nooks climbing out of the bottom half of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and being recognized as a strong team in the GNAC.
These student-athletes shared their thoughts about the Fairbanks team.
"I just want to, if it's possible I just want to play volleyball here forever, for life." said UAF’s Chen.
"I'm just going to miss everyone, I know that,” said UAF’s Wong.
“Because this was the school that welcomed me the best when I was a freshman. They were the ones that showed me that it was ok to be the new person and it was ok because they were going to take care of you."
"We brought new girls in and we changed a bunch of stuff,” said UAF’s Upchurch. “We had a new way dealing with our attitude and just the roller coaster we had on the court. More and more people started coming to our games, and we got more recognition and more support. It's been incredible the past four years and I'm just really can't wait to see where it goes."
The Nanooks finished their 2019 season with a 12-8 conference record and a fifth place finish out of the 11 teams.