Having to adjust to a new lineup, Kodiak tied for third in the silver bracket at the Dimond/Service Volleyball Tournament Saturday in Anchorage.
Because of an injury and multiple players out sick during the week leading up to the tournament, Kodiak head coach Amy Willis was forced to debut a new lineup in the Bears’ final matches of the regular season.
The girls performed well in their new roles, leading Kodiak to a third-place finish in the silver bracket. The team lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Thunder Mountain 25-23, 25-19.
“In the big picture, we had a very successful weekend,” Willis said.
The coach praised senior Jasmine Leiva, who vacated her customary spot in the back row to play outside hitter.
Known as a defensive specialist, Leiva combined for 21 kills over the two-day tournament while adding 40 digs.
“Without her, we would have really struggled,” Willis said. “She did a phenomenal job and did so much better than what I was expecting her to do. She might have even surprised herself.”
Kodiak opened pool play with a sweep of West Valley (25-18, 25-22), then dropped two matches to powerhouse Dimond (26-24, 25-12) and Northern Lights Conference rival Palmer (25-19, 25-12).
Willis said her team led Dimond for the majority of the first set before the Lynx caught fire.
“It was a super exciting match for us,” she said. “We were hanging with the big dogs and feeling pretty excited what we were capable of doing.”
Kodiak concluded pool play with a sweep of Grace Christian (25-9, 25-16).
The Bears opened the silver bracket with a 25-20, 25-18 victory over West Anchorage.
Kodiak’s run in the tournament ended with a loss to Thunder Mountain, which featured former Bear Avery Kreisher, whose family moved to Juneau during the summer.
“It was fun to see Avery,” Willis said. “They, for a smaller program, had a lot of strong hitters, and they kept swinging at us.”
Senior middle hitter Katrina Pruitt paced Kodiak with a combined 29 kills and eight solo blocks during the tournament, while senior Emma Ellsworth had 17 kills and freshman Kristen Carstens 13.
Senior Ashley Luto had 77 digs and 13 service aces.
Willis said it was important for Kodiak to attend this weekend’s tournament after missing a tournament earlier this season because of inclement weather.
“We just have to be at these tournaments. It is crucial. We just don’t get enough competition,” she said.
Kodiak is off this week before competing in the Northern Lights Conference Championships that begins Nov. 7 in Soldotna.
Kodiak’s junior varsity team placed fourth in the Dimond/Service JV Tournament.
The Bears lost to Colony in the third-place match.
Kodiak went 3-3 in pool play, then lost to Bartlett and beat Wasilla in bracket play to reach the third-place match.