Maready leads Del Norte with 10 kills
The Del Norte High volleyball team went into Thursday night's home match against Eureka without its best outside hitter, junior Kaitlyn Clemann. Her absence on the court was noticeable but not vital, as long as the Warriors played to their strengths.
Ultimately, to the dismay of Del Norte coaches Debbie and Pablo Lorenzi, the Warriors executed their offense ... defensively.
"They played to keep the ball in and were afraid of losing," Debbie Lorenzi said. "You can't play afraid."
Del Norte made enough mistakes when it mattered most to lose to the Loggers in a 3-2 thriller - 25-19, 17-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-8.
Tied at 5 in the fifth set, Eureka recorded a kill and followed it up with a service ace. The Warriors lost the next three points on unforced hitting errors and could not recover.
Hitting errors plagued Del Norte (4-4 overall, 1-1 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League) early, as the Warriors made six straight errors in the first set to turn a 6-5 lead into an 11-6 Eureka lead. Del Norte cut the deficit to 19-18 before erring on five of the last seven points.
The second set was delayed for several minutes at 2-2 when match referees determined that the Warriors had not followed their service rotation. Lorenzi disagreed, but the Loggers were awarded a point for the infraction.
Both teams played to a 17-17 tie before Ashton Smedley used one of her eight kills to stifle Eureka. Del Norte proceeded to win the next seven points on Smedley's serve, evening the match.
The Warriors fell behind 12-7 in the third set before winning seven consecutive points, benefiting from three consecutive service aces by sophomore Kayla Costello. All proved to be for naught, however, as the Loggers continued taking advantage of Del Norte hitting errors.
"I thought our passes were great," Lorenzi said. "The back row kept them coming. (Our hitters) haven't got it in their head yet to go for the kill."
The home crowd involved itself more in the fourth set, as Eureka, behind 21-17 at one point, tied the match at 22. A Loggers hitting error and a Katelyn Eninger kill gave Del Norte just enough cushion to force a fifth set.
Senior Brittany Maready led the Warriors with 10 kills. Eninger, a sophomore starting in place of Clemann, had seven kills on the night in her biggest role to date.
"I don't think she hurt us at all," Lorenzi said of Eninger. "She swung. When you set her the ball, you know she's going to swing. She just doesn't have the experience."
Del Norte has played in two games since Sept. 17, an uncommon lull in high school volleyball. The Warriors' season continues at home Tuesday against Fortuna.
"You've got to be tough at what your job is and play at that level," Lorenzi said. "We're going back to the drawing board and practicing, practicing, practicing."
Del Norte 16-25-15,
The Warriors' junior varsity team scored the final six points of a contentious match to defeat the Loggers for its first three-set victory of the season.
"We finally went after it," Del Norte coach Meagan Curtis said. "They felt like they could and should beat that other team."
The Warriors' boosted their overall record to 4-4 (1-1 Big 5 League) with the victory in advance of Tuesday's match against Fortuna. Game time is 5:30 p.m., with the varsity match to follow.
Reach Robert Husseman at