The Del Norte volleyball team finds itself all alone at the top of the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 standings today after pulling out an important 3-1 (25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 25-14) victory on the road in Arcata on Tuesday.
Del Norte and Arcata have been the heavyweights of the Big 5 league in recent years. The Tigers are in the midst of six straight HDN championships, but they have shared three of the last four of those titles with the Warriors.
“That win was big. Anytime you get a win away it is big,” said Del Norte head coach Debbie Lorenzi. “I think the Fortuna game kind of woke us up and was good for us. We need to play our A game in order to accomplish the goals that we need to accomplish and I think we figured that out. You can’t just show up, you have to go after the win against every opponent that you come across. I think we came to Arcata ready to to try to win that game. I think our attitude really pushed us through.”
The Warriors offense was exceptional against the much larger Arcata front line. Del Norte finished the game with a hitting efficiency over 0.400.
“We have been working on being quicker than the block and it paid off for us,” Lorenzi said. “We were quicker than their block, or able to get over their block. We did get blocked a couple times, but we were pretty efficient with our hitting.”
Junior Kaleya Sanchez led a balanced Warrior attack with 16 kills. Tayler Melton added nine kills for Del Norte while Claire Smith and Paula Mello chipped in eight kills apiece. Senior setter Payten Healy finished the game with 38 assists.
“My hitters are going for a variety of shots that we have been working on and it just paid off for us,” Lorenzi said.
Del Norte’s hitters were able to get lots of good swings throughout the match thanks to a strong game from the Warriors’ back row.
“Defensively they worked hard,” Lorenzi said. “They didn’t always pass like they wanted to but they were there on defense and if it was a bad pass it was at least playable. We had a lot more good passes than bad passes though. That is why we had so many hitting opportunities.”
The Warriors were also effective for most of the night when serving. Smith led the Warriors with five aces, followed by Healy with three aces and Melton with two.
Del Norte struggled with its serve early in the third set, however, with its three errors on its first three serves of the set, and four errors in its first five attempts.
“Right away in the third game we just gave them a big lead by not being able to serve,” Lorenzi said. “We still finished with 22 points though, which is amazing.”
With the win, Del Norte improves to 17-1 overall this season with a perfect 3-0 record in HDN Big 5 play.
The Warriors will be back at home today taking on McKinleyville. The Panthers are the only Big 5 team that Del Norte hasn’t faced yet this season.
McKinleyville enters the game with a 3-11 record overall this season, but the Panthers sit at 1-2 in Big 5 play after a win over Fortuna and losses to Eureka and Arcata.
“We haven’t see them, but they haven’t seen us either,” Lorenzi said. “We just want to do what we do well and do it consistently and we will be fine.”