By Ray Hamill — After more than a month of traveling for games, the Corsairs will finally play their home opener in volleyball this week, hosting Siskiyous at College of the Redwoods on Friday.
The game, however, means a lot more than just that, and is also the Golden Valley Conference opener for both teams.
CR comes into the showdown at 2-8, with a young team showing plenty of promise during the pre-conference schedule, while Siskiyous is 4-8.
And CR head coach Petra Lorenzi is expecting a competitive battle.
“I think we’re the more athletic team,” Lorenzi said. “But they’re the team that doesn’t make a ton of errors and lets teams beat themselves.”
Because of that, Lorenzi will be looking for a disciplined performance from her players, who have grown both individually and as a unit through the preseason in “all facets of the game,” according to the coach.
In particular, the team’s serve receive has come a long way, as you would expect from a group of mostly first-year collegiate players.
“I think the serve receive has really gone up,” Lorenzi said. “And that allows us to play the rest of the game.”
Wilson setting the tone
Sophomore Elise Wilson has been leading the way on the young team, with consistent performances at the libero position.
“Elise is doing a great job of being our leader all year,” Lorenzi said.
With several new faces vying for playing time and trying to establish themselves, Lorenzi has utilized a deep rotation during the opening 10 games, but two freshmen in particular have quickly stepped up to the challenge.
Ariana Gallegos, out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been impressing as the team’s starting setter, while Eureka’s Jessica Simon is quickly developing into one of the team leaders.
“Jessica is one of our most vocally encouraging leaders out there. And she’s performing well,” Lorenzi said. “She really helps keep the court upbeat and positive, and that can prevent a one-point mistake quickly becoming a three- or four-point mistake.”
And she’s not the only one having an immediate impact on the team.
“Ariana has been steeping up,” the head coach said. “She’s becoming more vocal and she’s commanding the court better.”
Overall, Lorenzi is happy with the way her team has developed over the first month of the season, and believes they can be competitive in the GVC this season.
“We didn’t come out of the preseason with the win-loss record we would have liked, but I thought we had a pretty good preseason,” she said.
Traditional conference favorites Feather River and Butte are both expected to lead the way again, but the CR head coach is expecting her team to be in the mix with the remaining four teams and talented enough to take on the challenge of Siskiyous, Shasta and Lassen.
“I would like us to be competing for third, and I really think we’re physically capable of doing that,” Lorenzi said.
Friday’s game is set for 6 p.m.