By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

COLUMBIA, S.C. Former Del Norte High School volleyball standout Petra Lorenzi has taken a veteran leadership role on the University of South Carolina volleyball team.

Lorenzi, a 2005 graduate of Del Norte High, has been someone to look up to as a junior to a young Gamecocks squad that features eight freshman and no seniors.

For Lorenzi, who is a starter at setter and a team captain, it has been fun helping the new members of the squad adjust to life playing college volleyball in a major conferencethe Southeastern Conference (SEC)and how to balance sports and classes.

andquot;It's been fun,andquot; Lorenzi said in a phone interview. andquot;It's been nice to be someone they can go to. I talk to them a lot.andquot;

With such a young team, they have had their share of andquot;ups and downs,andquot; she said, with the team playing well one game and being off the next time they take the court.

For the season, the Gamecocks are 11-12 overall and just came off a five-game win against Louisiana State University (LSU) on Sunday. South Carolina plays tonight in Columbia against ranked opponent Florida.

andquot;We've have had both big wins and losses that come with having a young team,andquot; Lorenzi said.

For her, playing college volleyball has been an enjoyable challenge that gives her a chance to compete against elite competition.

andquot;It's fun every night,andquot; she said. andquot;You never really know what to expect. You have to be on your A game every night.andquot;

The school is quite a big sports campus and Lorenzi said it's fun to play in front of the home crowd.

She said she has enjoyed that atmosphere and getting to know the other athletesmany who she has become friends with.

And, she said, it's quite amazing watching a football game with 85,000 other excited fans.

andquot;It's a fun school,andquot; she said.

So how did someone from California get all the way to South Carolina?

In her junior year of high school, Lorenzi got to know the coaching staff at Oregon State University through a camp she went to.

Another OSU connection is Kristin Murray, a senior on the Beavers volleyball team and a 2004 Del Norte High graduate.

When then OSU head coach Nancy Somera took the head coaching job at South Carolina, she recruited Lorenzi and offered her a scholarship. andquot;It all fell into place,andquot; she said.

This year, the team is coached by former Gamecocks associate head coach Ben Somera, who is the husband of the former coach.

Lorenzi said while it's great to play volleyball, it does take effort to to be a student athlete, with many long days of practice, games, classes and homework.

Currently, Lorenzi is majoring in public relations, with a minor in political science.

andquot;It's a balance,andquot; she said, adding the coaches expect the players to do well, both on the court and in the classroom. andquot;They're not big on slacking,andquot; Lorenzi said. andquot;You have to find the time to do it all.andquot;

Overall, Lorenzi said she is pleased to be where she is, having the chance of playing sports and gain an education.

andquot;Things are going good for me,andquot; she said. andquot;I'm pretty happy with how things are right now.andquot;