Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

Del Norte volleyball looks for payoff from summer conditioning as season draws near

One year ago, when Debbie and Pablo Lorenzi regained control of the Del Norte High volleyball program, they brought a rigorous weight training regimen back with them.

At the time, it was a struggle for the Warriors to adapt to the regimen. The summer of 2013 brought with it a familiarity to the Lorenzis' expectations and an opportunity to prepare early for the 2013 season.

"When kids were in town, they were here," Debbie Lorenzi said Monday, during Del Norte's first volleyball practice of the season in Thunen Gymnasium at Del Norte High School.

And, according to Lorenzi, they put in the work. Players were tested on their maximum bench press, cleans and squats in the weight room. Lorenzi said that the Warriors had not advanced far enough last year to attempt one-repetition maximum lifts.

On the court, Lorenzi has noticed an improvement in the team's overall volleyball skill.

"Those that have come are far better than they were at the beginning of summer," she said. "So far, we're on a good foot. I'm really happy."

"We know the game more," senior Ericka Alcala said. "We're able to read the ball a lot more than we did."

The Warriors lost a little of everything from a team that finished second in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League last season: a powerful outside hitter (Brittany Maready), a reliable defensive specialist (Amy Henkell), a versatile setter (Marissa Van Dyke) and an experienced middle blocker (Cortney Penner).

As with the 2012 team, the roster is balanced in terms of grade level. Alcala is one of four seniors on the roster, along with middle blocker Ashton Smedley and outside hitters Kaitlyn Clemann and Kiera Davis.

Three juniors - outside hitter Katelyn Eninger, setter Kayla Costello and middle blocker Sarah Levi - and sophomore outside hitter Regin Loftin return with significant varsity experience.

Junior Grace Bruschi and sophomores Joely Tynes and Sam Lundin complete the roster. (A roster spot is available for an outstanding junior varsity player to seize.)

"We're basically a family," Alcala said. "When we come out on the court together, it feels like magic."

There is much room for improvement, starting with a familiar bugaboo: on-court communication. During the first official practice, players struggled to receive volleyballs hit between them, occasionally letting a ball hit the court.

"It's not better right now," Debbie Lorenzi said. "They did up-downs for not communicating. (The number of up-downs is) going to get higher and higher until they communicate."

The Warriors left today for a three-day camp at Lost Creek Lake in Oregon, 33 miles north of Medford. Del Norte begins its season Thursday, Aug. 29, with a jamboree in Grants Pass, Ore., before leaving for a tournament in Reno, Nev., on Aug. 30.

Reach Robert Husseman at