Del Norte volleyball rebounds from slow start to sweep Eureka 3-0

The Del Norte volleyball team sent its seniors out with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-12) victory over Eureka on senior night in the Del Norte gym on Wednesday.

"It was really exciting for me," said senior outside hitter Kailtlyn Clemann. "I have been excited about senior night this whole year. The community came out and supported us tonight. It was a lot of fun."

The Warriors may have been a little bit too pumped up for the start of the game against the Loggers.

"Senior night is a celebration of the seniors and the time that they have been playing here," said Del Norte coach Pablo Lorenzi. "There are a lot of positive things, but there are also some negative things that come out of it. They are thinking in their mind that this is the last time they are going to play here, and they start thinking that they have to do something supernatural because they are seniors. I think that's what happened early in the match."

The Warriors started the game out in a funk, falling behind 12-5 early, with eight of Eureka's first 10 points coming off of Del Norte errors or infractions.

The Warriors didn't panic however.

"We knew what we had to do," Clemann said. "We had to pick it up and play a little faster, play our game. We wereplaying down to their level."

Del Norte was able to turn it around, going on a 15-5 run midway through the first set to regain the lead and edge out the Loggers 25-22 in game one.

The Warriors jumped out to big leads early in each of the next two sets and ran away with the victory to improve to 22-9-1 overall and 6-1 with a share of first place in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5.

The Del Norte offense was balanced on Wednesday with junior Kayla Costello leading the team with nine kills. Clemann added eight kills and Ashton Smedley chipped in seven.

"I think our outside was a little off tonight, but everyone else picked up the slack, which was good," Lorenzi said. "That is what we are trying to be about. We have a more balanced attack, so defenses can't just key on one person."

Costello also led the team with 14 assists while Samantha Lundin dished out 10.

Clemann had a team-high three aces in the match. Costello, Smedley and Grace Bruschi all had two aces.

It was the last league game at home for seniors Clemann, Smedley, Ericka Alcala and Kiera Davis. Those four girls have helped to revive the Warrior volleyball team and put them back in contention for a HDN Big 5 title, which Del Norte had a stranglehold on for nearly three decades in the '80s, '90s and early 2000s.

"They have helped us come from two years ago, when we were getting creamed, to competing for a league title," Lorenzi said. "They have put in a lot of time. All the kudos that they have gotten, they deserve. They just have to understand that there is more to go."

Beyond just the wins, Lorenzi said he has enjoyed coaching this class of seniors over the years.

"They are a good group," he said. "They are fun to be around and they take everybody in. It has been really good."

Del Norte has one regular season game remaining. They will close out the season with a trip to Fortuna on Tuesday.

"We need to come prepared to play Fortuna," Lorenzi said. "They are going to scrap and play tough. It is probably their senior night, so their seniors are going to come out ready to go."

The game is important for the Warriors, who are currently tied with Arcata for first place in the league at 6-1. Arcata will play Eureka on Tuesday and if both teams win, or both lose, they will be co-league champions. They will still have to play a one-game playoff with Arcata, however, to determine which team will represent the HDN Big 5 as the league champion in the North Coast Sectional.

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