An incredible streak of consecutive league titles for the Del Norte High School volleyball team ended recently. It’s worthy of note, not because it’s over, but because it happened in the first place.
For 21 — count ’em, 21 — consecutive seasons, the Warriors either won outright or shared league titles. That’s a level of dominance unmatched by the best-known dynasties in sports: the Yankees in baseball, the Celtics in pro basketball or UCLA in college basketball.
For several straight seasons, the volleyball team didn’t even drop a league match. It lost three this season, and McKinleyville took the championship. The streak may be over, but Del Norte’s run of volleyball success certainly is not.
While placing second, this year’s team posted a 5-3 record in league matches. And consider how the season ended. The Warriors hosted the team that had dethroned them, and an epic struggle played out in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. In the fifth and deciding game, Del Norte fell behind 10-4 before coming back to win 17-15.
That’s Warrior pride, and it’s been on display since September:
• The football team earned a berth in the Northcoast Section Division III playoffs and will try to knock off top-ranked Marin Catholic today in the Bay Area. That after a stirring homecoming victory in double-overtime over league favorite Eureka.
• Also today, Del Norte cross-country runner Zara Gastineau competes in the Northcoast Section Meet of Champions in Hayward. She finished second in the league meet and earned White Star honors.
• Earlier this week, the tennis doubles pair of Kathryn Gustafson and Sam Bausch reached new heights for the Humboldt-Del Norte Conference by winning a match and finishing fourth at the Northcoast Section Division II championships in Hayward.
• Last month junior Sydney Benson became the first Del Norte golfer in several years to qualify for the Northcoast Section Division I qualifier in the Bay Area. Inspired by her golfing grandfather, Benson has been taking part in the sport for only two years.
• Del Norte loves its sports, and the children who grow up here get plenty of chances to participate starting early in youth programs run by volunteers. Last weekend, two Del Norte Youth Football teams played in league championship games in Eureka, and one of them won to finish an undefeated season.
It’s a culture of success and athletic accomplishment that the entire community can be proud of, but what the volleyball program accomplished over 21 straight seasons exceeds the expectations of any reasonable person. Just think of it: The Warriors won a championship every season as the players changed, as the coaches changed. Indeed, players who weren’t born when the streak began helped to prolong it. Others contributed first as players, then as coaches.
So here’s to the Warrior volleyball program past and present. Thanks for serving up so much inspiration to us all.