By Ray Hamill — When it comes to Arcata High volleyball, consistency has been a key part of head coach Laurie Griffith’s 11-year tenure in charge of the team.
The Tigers have finished in the top two in the Big 5 for the past seven years, including six straight where they either tied for or won the title outright.
In that spell, they have developed an intriguing league rivalry with Del Norte, with the two schools tying for the championship on three different occasions.
Last season, it was the Warriors who won out, finishing 8-0 in league play, with Arcata and Eureka tying for second.
Expect those three to be right in the mix once again this fall.
The Tigers got the season under way this past week, including a trip to the Fort Bragg Tournament over the weekend, where they went 3-2.
The Arcata girls posted victories over Clear Lake, Fort Bragg and Ukiah, with a pair of losses to Roseland University Prep.
“We have a lot of new faces that will be playing this year,” Griffith said, adding that she likes the effort from the players in preseason.
Key to the team’s success this season will be three returning players, seniors Anna Williams-Garcia and Willow Ricca, and junior Maya Mircetich.
Williams-Garcia is a defensive specialist, who brings a “a lot of leadership,” according to the coach.
“She’s a strong senior who inspires the team and gets them going,” Griffith said.
MIrcetich, an outside hitter, and Ricca, a middle blocker, each also saw substantial playing time on last season’s 19-11 team and will be expected to lead the way on a junior-heavy roster.
“I think our juniors are going to be a solid group,” Griffith said. “They work together.”
The head coach is also expecting this year’s team to be strong on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think we’re a lot scrappier this year,” she said. “And I think we’re going to play good defense.”
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As for the Big 5, Griffith expects another tight battle.
“I think Del Norte’s good, and Eureka I think is going to be tough again,” the coach said. “They both have a strong senior class.”
The Tigers host St. Bernard’s on Tuesday night and will travel to Fortuna on Thursday.