Del Norte volleyball came through when it mattered most in Fortuna, rallying from two straight set losses to win the decisive fifth set comfortably, escaping Fortuna with a 3-2 (25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 23-25, 15-5) victory to improve to 2-0 in Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 league play.

The Warriors jumped out to a two-set lead, but the home team was able to rally in Fortuna to tie up the match and force a decisive fifth set.

“It was a crazy game,” said Del Norte head coach Debbie Lorenzi. “We just didn’t go into the match with the intensity that we needed in the very beginning. I didn’t really see the intensity that I wanted to see until the fifth game.”

Senior setter Payton Healy got the Warriors off to a hot start with three straight aces to start the final set, giving Del Norte a quick 3-0 lead that the Warriors never relinquished.

“The good thing is that they did pull it out in the fifth and they dominated it,” Lorenzi said. “They just need to learn how to start out the way that they ended in that third game — all the time, with everybody that we play. At any time anybody can come around and beat you. I think we learned that though. It is nice to be able to learn a lesson like that and still come out with a win.”

Healy finished the game with a team-high four aces and 14 digs, while also recording 10 kills against the Huskies.

Kaleya Sanchez led the Warriors with 15 kills, followed by Tayler Melton with 11 kills.

Although Lorenzi thought the team got off to a sluggish start, she said she was impressed by senior libero Antonia Alcala and junior Katherine Martinez. Alcala finished the match with 11 digs, while Martinez racked up nine digs.

“I really thought that Katherine and Toni had a really good game,” Lorenzi said. “Toni was just all over trying to do the best job that she could in that back row. Then Katherine was getting high on that net and she fought hard in the front row and back row.”

Although senior captain Claire Smith was in the lineup, and posted a nice line with 10 digs, 10 kills and four blocks, Lorenzi said Smith has been fighting an illness and hasn’t been 100 percent for the last few matches.

“Claire was sick but on the court,” Lorenzi said. “At one point she had to go out the door, get some air and come back in.”

Lorenzi decided to sit Smith out of the third set and the Warriors coach said she could tell the team was missing one of its main leaders.

“I think we missed her presence, and I think that cost us the third game,” Lorenzi said. “She was in the fourth and fifth game and she was trying to do it all and just couldn’t.”

Del Norte will be back in action on Tuesday with perhaps its most difficult road trip of the HDN season. The Warriors will take on Arcata, starting at about 6:30 p.m.

“That will be a hard game. It is going to be in their barn, so we will have to come out strong and stay strong the whole time,” Lorenzi said. “We have to keep our intensity level up and communicate well.”

Del Norte swept Arcata 2-0 in the championship game of the Anderson Tournament on Sept. 16. The Warriors and Tigers have shared three of the last four HDN Big 5 championships, with Arcata winning the title outright in 2015.

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