Courtesy of Kodiak High School volleyball

Kodiak’s Kristen Carstens, left, Britney Llorente and Jiselle Blanco gather for a photo after being selected to the all-tournament team of the Lady Grizzly Volleyball Tournament.  

Throughout the 2021 volleyball season, Kodiak has saved its best performances for tournaments. 

In August, the Bears finished fifth at a loaded West Spiketacular and recorded a runner-up finish at their five-team tournament.

This past weekend, Kodiak continued its brilliant run through tournaments at the Lady Grizzly Volleyball Tournament at Grace Christian School in Anchorage. 

Kodiak edged host Grace 25-9, 15-25, 15-7 to win the gold bracket.

Kodiak coach Amy Willis said her team fought through a vocal home crowd to pull out the victory. 

“The girls just worked really hard,” the coach said. “I tend to lose sight of the fact that I have three sophomores who are pretty much freshmen ... we had a great practice season last year, but the real pressure of the clock, the crowd and the pressure of the match they haven’t had a lot of that.”

Kodiak’s 2020 season was limited to practice and matches against community members due to the pandemic. The more matches the Bears get in this season, the better they get.  

Jiselle Blanco led Kodiak’s attack in the championship game, compiling six kills, 13 digs and five service aces. 

Kristen Carstens tallied a team-high eight kills, while Elan Hilty added six. 

Britany Llorente had a team-high 18 digs. Marielle Mangrobang and Alliah Baisa each had six kills.

En route to the title, Kodiak took out Soldotna 20-11, 20-18 and the Colony junior varsity 20-17, 20-16. 

Carstens, Llorente and Blanco were named to the all-tournament team. 

Carstens finished the tournament with 47 kills, 46 digs, seven service aces and seven blocks (three solo). 

Llorente had a team-high 108 digs and five service aces, while Blanco had 25 kills and 63 digs. 

“It really was a team victory. Yes, we got three nominated for the all-tournament team, but in my heart, they all work so hard every day at practice that they all deserve that recognition,” Willis said. 

The Bears got off to a slow start Saturday, dropping their final two pool play sets to Kenai (25-15) and Valdez (27-25) that kept them out of the platinum bracket. Kodiak finished fourth in Pool B with a 5-3 record. 

Kodiak beat Nikiski (25-15), Anchorage Christian (25-14), Seward (25-16) and Palmer (25-15). The Bears also lost to Monroe (25-23). 

Colony, which swept Kodiak in a pair of Northern Lights Conference matches earlier this season, defeated Bartlett to win the platinum bracket. 

Monroe took out Nikiski to win the silver bracket.



Kodiak hosts Palmer in a pair of NLC matches Friday and Saturday at Kodiak High. 

Friday’s match begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s match starts at 1:30 p.m. 

Kodiak enters the weekend with an 0-4 conference record and looking to pick up its first NLC victory since the 2018 season.  

“Unless we want to play Colony in the first round (of the conference tournament) we got to get some wins under our belt,” Willis said.

Friday’s match is a Dig Pink match where proceeds will go to a local family dealing with cancer. In addition, there will be a dessert auction, the dance team will perform and the volleyball team will wear pink jerseys.

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