You won’t catch Nikkie Viotto with a frown on her face.
“Always smiling,” said University of Alaska-Anchorage volleyball coach Chris Green of the Eagle River High School product. “She always came to practice with the same demeanor.”
Viotto recently finished off her collegiate career at UAA as one of the school’s most decorated scholar-athletes. On the court, she finished in the top 20 on UAA’s all-time list in digs, aces, aces per set, sets played, matches played and matches won. Off it she was even more spectacular, getting named to three consecutive All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference Academic teams.
“It’s been important to me to do well in school knowing volleyball isn’t going to carry me forever,” she said.
Viotto, who’s majoring in Strategic Communications, carries a hefty 3.82 GPA. She’s set to graduate this spring and hopes to land a job in public relations.
It should be a natural fit for Viotto, who Green counted on as a vocal leader throughout her career.
“She brought some excitement to our volleyball program,” he said.
Viotto at Eagle River High under coach Bobbi Mason, and credited the now-Chugiak head coach with giving her the skills she needed to become a success at the college level. A naturally aggressive player, Viotto said Mason helped channel that aggression.
“Bobbi was the one who taught me I could tip and still be aggressive,” Viotto said.
Standing just 5-feet-8, Viotto needed every bit of aggressiveness she could muster out on the court. But even though Green recruited her as a defensive specialist, Viotto eventually was able to work herself into a hitting role.
“She’s done a variety of things for us,” he said.
Green said Viotto’s best attribute — aside from her leadership qualities — was her court awareness.
“She’s very smart,” he said.
Viotto’s ability to challenge the team’s taller hitters in practice also helped the squad, which reached the NCAA tournament in three straight seasons before missing out this year.
“Having someone like that in practice is huge,” he said.
Although UAA had a relatively disappointing season, Viotto said she and fellow senior Kimya Jafroudi took it upon themselves to help groom a young team that included five freshmen.
“We just wanted to show them we’re expected to win and when we walk onto the court we are the Seawolves and we don’t lose in front of our home crowd,” Viotto said.
Green and Gold has been in Viotto’s blood since she began attending matches as a kid with her dad, Mark.
“That’s something I’m going to miss the most,” she said. “Playing in front of a home crowd is something that’s completely unreal to me.”
Viotto said the best part about being at UAA was the fact that her family and friends could watch her play whenever the Seawolves were at home.
“Once you step on the court its like you’re an inspiration to everyone who comes to see you,” she said.
Viotto said she’ll miss playing college volleyball, but couldn’t be happier with how her career turned out.
“I just wanted to enjoy it,” she said. “And I did.”
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org