While Kodiak High School’s volleyball team is finishing its season at the 4A state tournament in Anchorage, another island team will be making its season debut.

On Friday and Saturday, the Kodiak Emerging Small Schools team is hosting the first Kodiak Rural Schools Mixed-Six Volleyball Invitational.

The five-team tournament begins 4 p.m. Friday at Kodiak Middle School with round-robin play and concludes with a double-elimination bracket that starts at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Joining Kodiak ESS will be Nikolaevsk, Seldovia and Tanalian.

This is the second year for Kodiak ESS, which allows the archipelago’s rural schools to come together to form one team. The squad consists of 24 players — only 22 will be at the tournament — from Akhiok (10), Ouzinkie (three), Larsen Bay (three), Port Lions (three) and Karluk (three). Port Lions is a new part of the team.

With so many players, the team is forming a varsity and junior varsity lineup.

“We are blessed with the first ever junior varsity team for the KESS,” Karluk coach Russ Scotter said.

All the schools have their own coaches and all practice nearly every day.

This weekend will be the first time the team will be in the same building together.

“We do have a few returning players from last year … but how are they going to play together — how fast does it take them to learn to play together is what is going to be interesting,” Scotter said.

“Our goal right now is to make sure we are all fundamentally sound when we come in together.”

Scotter said the idea behind the tournament was to give other schools a chance to come to Kodiak to play volleyball. It is being hosted in Kodiak instead of a village because it saves on travel expenses.

“Most of the time we are always traveling somewhere else and nobody thinks about coming over to Kodiak to play,” Scotter said.

Nikolaevsk and Seldovia — a first year mix-six team — come from the Kenai Peninsula Borough, while Tanalian is located in Port Alsworth (Lake and Peninsula Borough).

The Alaska Schools Activities Association created the mix-six, co-ed classification for small schools in 1997. Port Lions won the mix-six state title in 2003 and finished third in 2005.

“Girls volleyball is fantastic, and I love watching it, but there is just another element when you add the boys to it,” Scotter said.

This is Kodiak ESS’s only competition before the regional tournament that begins Dec. 6 in Nikolaevsk. The region champion advances to the state tournament. Next year Kodiak is hosting the tournament.

Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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