Six members of the Del Norte High School volleyball team were on the court in the high school’s main gymnasium earlier this week, taking part in a defensive drill.
Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson Del Norte High senior Brittany Maready skies up to the net during a drill at Thursday’s Warriors volleyball practice.
Facing live serves, the six had to appropriately maneuver themselves around the court to receive the serve, keep it under control and then send it back over the net.
The girls were loud, communicating their positions and dictating where the ball should go. Coupled with the squeak of sneakers, the gym felt alive on a cold August morning.
One serve, however, made its way in between two players who did not speak up. It bounced on the floor between them. An ace, if this was an actual game.
Drop a pin on the court at that moment, and the sound reverberates throughout the gym.
“On the line!” yelled Del Norte head coach Debbie Lorenzi.
The Warriors hustled to the baselines of the basketball court and began a series of sprints and up-downs. Not a sound was made beyond the squeak of sneakers.
Lorenzi and her husband, Pablo Lorenzi, have returned to Del Norte High after Robyn Parker resigned as volleyball coach following the 2011 season. The Warriors went 3-5 in Big 5 League play and 14-16 overall.
The Lorenzis have been involved with Del Norte volleyball since 1980; they stepped away from full-time coaching duties in 2005 but continued to provide assistance.
The Lorenzis, who helped guide the Warriors to 21 consecutive Big 5 volleyball titles from 1989 to 2009, have wasted no time in reinstalling their style of program over the past three months, a style best characterized in a single word.
“Intense,” senior setter Marissa Van Dyke said.
“For the girls to adjust to our style, which is old-fashioned, it has been hard work,” Debbie Lorenzi said. “We’re too old to change.”
Rebuilding Del Norte volleyball this off-season began with an emphasis on conditioning and strength training. The Lorenzis habitually implement a weight training program that can be completed in nine to 12 weeks. With 12 days before the start of their season, the Warriors have progressed through the third week of the program.
Pablo Lorenzi, above left, returned to full-time coaching this season for the first time since 2005.
“We were extremely weak,” Debbie Lorenzi said. “Very few of them had ever been in the weight room before. Doing one pushup was difficult.”
“Last year, we didn’t go in the weight room at all,” senior Brittany Maready admitted.
A strong physical base, Lorenzi explained, allows the girls to get to the ball easier and keep it up in the air for a longer period of time, ostensibly allowing for more repetitions during drills. The endurance built up would then translate into games.
Where game play is concerned, much of the summer and fall has been “spent on an attitude,” Lorenzi said. “(We want to) go to the ball, wherever it is on the floor.
“We’re about 70 percent of the way there. We’ve still got to think about it. It doesn’t come naturally yet.”
Del Norte lacks general experience on its varsity squad. Four seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and a freshman make up the roster at present. Only Maready has been coached by the Lorenzis previously.
“We’ve got some pretty good hitters,” Van Dyke said of the team’s makeup. “This is a taller team than last year’s.”
Attitudes toward competition have also changed.
“It wasn’t even fun last year,” Van Dyke said. “(Del Norte volleyball) felt like a JV level — it didn’t feel like varsity.”
Enter the Lorenzis, their meticulous drills, their emphasis on conditioning, and their past results.
“They like to win,” Maready said. “They do not like to lose.”