Photo courtesy of Amy Willis

Kodiak High School’s volleyball team gathers for a photo during their trip to Fairbanks. The Bears finished tied for third out of 11 teams at the West Valley Invitational. 

The Kodiak High School volleyball team’s trip to the Interior didn’t start well, but it finished with a positive. 

The Bears tied for third in the 11-team West Valley Invitational on Saturday in Fairbanks. 

Kodiak was eliminated by host West Valley, 25-19, 25-13, in a semifinal match of the gold championship bracket. The Wolfpack, which swept the Bears in a nonconference match on Thursday, took the tournament title over 3A Barrow. 

“We consistently improved all weekend,” Kodiak coach Amy Willis wrote in an email. “We were complemented on our hustle and determination against West Valley — we made them earn every point.”

Willis said West Valley boasted four players over 6-feet tall. Kodiak’s average height is 5-4. She noted facing the Wolfpack was good practice for when the Bears battle Northern Lights Conference Colony again. The Knights, a team with three players over 6-feet tall, swept a pair of matches from the Bears last week in Kodiak. 

Kyla Nocon and Kathryn Carstens were placed on the all-tournament team. 

Nocon tallied 85 digs, 19 kills, 14 assists and 13 service aces during the two-day tournament. 

Carstens had 15 kills, 25 digs and seven aces. 

Kodiak finished 6-4 in pool play and were seeded fifth in the bracket. The Bears beat North Pole, Eielson, Delta, Hutchison, Valdez and Monroe and lost to Eagle River, Lathrop, Barrow and West Valley. 

Kodiak edged Lathrop, 25-21, 28-26, in the first bracket play match. 

Willis praised the play of Ruth Dela Cruz, who finished with 21 kills, 37 digs, 38 assists and 11 aces.

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