Del Norte volleyball misses chance at automatic bid into NCS Tournament

The Del Norte volleyball team dropped a tightly contest match 3-1 (18-25, 25-20, 25-23, 26-24) to Arcata on Thursday night in a one-match playoff to decide who would earn the HDN Big 5 automatic bid into the North Coast Sectional tournament.

"It was probably the best high school volleyball game I have been around in a long time," said Del Norte coach Pablo Lorenzi. "Nobody got a commanding lead. It was all just nip-and-tuck the whole time. Every time somebody would get ahead two or three points, the other team would come back two or three points."

Lorenzi has been disappointed in the Warriors' level of play over the course of their final few regular season matches, but on Thursday Del Norte put up a strong fight in Arcata.

"Their attitude was better, their communication was better," Lorenzi said. "I liked the way we held our own, especially with such a big crowd there. I really think the crowd helped Arcata. It motivated their team to be better. In some cases it was a detriment to us, but overall we played better than we have in similar situations."

Kaitlyn Clemann had a big night offensively for the Warriors, finishing the game with 23 kills. Ashton Smedley recorded eight kills and three blocks, and Regin Loftin added nine kills for Del Norte.

Kayla Costello dished out 24 assists in the match while Samantha Lundin added 15.

The game was a rubber match between the Warriors and Tigers, who both finished the season with 7-1 records in the HDN Big 5. Against each other, each team had previously lost at home, with both matches going four sets.

"We are evenly matched," Lorenzi said. "The only thing that they have that we don't is they are a little bit more experienced. They basically brought their whole team back from last year when they won the league title."

The loss gives the league's North Coast Sectional automatic bid to Arcata, but Del Norte still expects to qualify as an at-large bid with an overall record of 23-10-1.

Of the 30 teams in the North Coast Section Division 3, Del Norte had the fourth-best record, according, and 16 teams are chosen to compete in the tournament.

Lorenzi said he submitted the paperwork for the Warriors' inclusion. Rankings and seeds for the North Coast Sectional will released Sunday.

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