For DN, the road to a Big 5 League title starts out through Panthers
As long as the Del Norte High volleyball senior class has the right to choose, there's no way it's going to lose the opportunity to restore Warriors volleyball to the glory of past years.
This is life under coaches Debbie and Pablo Lorenzi: 21 consecutive years (1989-2009) and 26 total years worth of Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League titles loom large over the program.
This is the song of the 2012 squad: The Warriors consider themselves championship contenders and expect nothing less than their best.
"We want to prove everyone wrong and tell them we can do it," junior middle blocker Ashton Smedley said. "We want to rub it in their face."
"Our class has never won anything," senior middle blocker Cortney Penner said. "I don't know what winning feels like."
Del Norte begins to fight the powers that be tonight at home against McKinleyville, the 2010 Big 5 champion and the school that snapped the Warriors' streak. The junior varsity contest begins at 5:30 p.m., with the varsity game beginning after that.
"We have an advantage," Penner said. "They haven't seen us play. They don't know what we have. We could be the suckiest team, but they don't know. They think they could beat the crap out of us."
As Del Norte (3-3 overall) aims to pick its destiny in conference play, it must work as a more cohesive unit.
The Lorenzis have emphasized the relationship between the three players in the back row and the three players in the front row when receiving serves. Hitters in the back row need to accurately direct passes to the setter in the front row; the setter then passes to the outside hitters. The cleaner the passes come in, the more the hitters can do with the ball.
"Pablo says, to communicate well in the back row, we need to trust each other," Penner said. "We can pass anything. We just need to know we can."
Smedley noted Del Norte's need to "get our intensity up and have confidence in ourselves." That sentiment was borne out in performances such as the Warriors' 3-2 loss to Brookings-Harbor on Sept. 11, in which Del Norte won the first two sets but struggled to finish the match.
Penner and Smedley have one other wish: A packed and raucous gym telling the Panthers: You don't know us and you don't belong.
"We want the student section to be packed and very disrespectful of the other team," Smedley said with a laugh. "Volleyball used to get a lot of attention. Everyone's afraid to be weird or get crazy."
"We want to be on the front page," Penner added. "We want to brag in (the football team's) face."
"We want to get more wins than football," Smedley added jokingly.
The message rings out loud and clear: Del Norte volleyball is not going to take it anymore.
Serve-A-Thon on tap
The Warriors volleyball team is holding a Serve-A-Thon fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Del Norte High School main gym.
Each volleyball player will be taking pledges of either a flat dollar amount or an amount per legal serve. The players will each hit 100 serves on Tuesday in a competition of accuracy. Proceeds go toward travel to games and tournaments and other expenses.
Reach Robert Husseman at