Too often in Del Norte’s varsity volleyball home opener, the Warriors failed to capitalize on controlled possessions.
Hits went long, wide and every which way against nonleague opponent Gold Beach. As the match progressed, the effect of the mistakes was amplified.
“We weren’t intense,” Del Norte junior Kaitlyn Clemann said. “We didn’t feel like ourselves.”
The Panthers defeated the Warriors in four games on Tuesday night, 25-20, 17-25, 25-11, 25-20, as those squandered possessions drew the ire of Del Norte head coach Debbie Lorenzi.
“Our hitters chickened out,” Lorenzi said. “We were just putting the ball in instead of going for the kill. We can’t be doing that.
“I’m disappointed in them, especially coming out of the (Yreka Tournament).”
The Warriors (0-1 overall) and the Panthers were knotted at 15 in the first set before Gold Beach scored seven consecutive points, all on Del Norte hitting errors. Senior Cortney Penner helped right the ship with a kill and a service ace on consecutive points, but the deficit was too steep to make up.
Clemann paced Del Norte in the second set with three of her team-high eight kills (including the penultimate point) and two service aces.
“Kaitlyn Clemann came alive and stayed alive the rest of the night,” Lorenzi said.
From that point, the team could not match the intensity and precision on display in the second set.
“The third (set) was one of our downs,” Clemann said. “In the fourth, it was too late for us to get back the lead.
“Gold Beach ... was a big team, but I felt like we were faster. We didn’t take advantage. We weren’t focused the entire time.”
The Panthers again capitalized on Del Norte errors for a big third set and jumped out to an 18-10 lead in the fourth set. The Warriors rattled off five straight points in a comeback attempt but could not finish the job.
The passes were no longer as crisp, and communication errors led to balls hitting the floor.
“It was just an even game,” Clemann said, “but they were already ahead.”
Penner finished the game with six kills and five blocks for Del Norte, and junior Kiera Davis had five kills and a block. Junior Ashton Smedley had a night to remember from the baseline with six service aces.
Gold Beach junior Jessica Young had a game-high nine kills for the Panthers.
Del Norte JV 25-25
Gold Beach JV 14-16
The Del Norte junior varsity squad made the most of its regular-season debut, defeating the Panthers’ junior varsity team in a best-of-three-sets match on Tuesday night.
“I was most impressed with our serving,” Warriors coach Meagan Curtis said. “We haven’t focused a whole lot on serving (in practice). I was happy to see them go after it.”
Del Norte scored the final nine points of the first set, benefiting from three service aces by sophomore Grace Bruschi. Gold Beach tied the second set at 12 points apiece before the Warriors closed the set on a 13-4 run, capitalizing on Panther errors.