By Ray Hamill — It’s been a productive offseason for College of the Redwoods volleyball, with head coach Petra Lorenzi addressing a major need for the program in recruiting.
On Thursday, the Corsairs added two more players to their ranks, with the Del Norte duo of Paula Mello and Dora Castillo signing letters of commitment to play for the team this fall.
The addition of the two Warriors closes out a busy offseason for Lorenzi and assistant coach Bethany Rapp, with eight new players joining the program.
And that, coupled with the five or six returning players, should give the head coach the deepest squad she’s had yet in what will be her third season in charge, while also addressing a major need.
“We have a little height this year, and that’s nice,” Lorenzi said.
The two Del Norte players will join the team along with Fortuna standout Paige Johnson and former Arcata Tiger Kaylin Campbell, as well as four new players from out of the area.
And all the new faces have one thing in common above all else.
“Our goal this year was to recruit a bunch of competitive kids that love to play and like to win, and that also see the importance of academics,” Lorenzi said. “They understand hard work, they like to win and they like to succeed.”
Both Mello and Castillo come from a Del Norte program that has long since set the standard in the Humboldt-Del Norte League, and both are well accustomed to winning.
“One of the biggest things with the Del Norte kids is they come out of a very competitive program,” said Lorenzi, a former Del Norte standout herself. “And they’re used to a tough strength and conditioning program.”
The athletic Mello will play outside hitter and is a player the coach feels is ready to have a big breakout season, while Castillo is a very reliable defensive specialist.
“She has solid ball handling skills and she’s a very tough kid,” Lorenzi said of Castillo.
Johnson, who was also a part of the large 10-player recruiting class softball head coach Maggie White introduced earlier this month, will play middle blocker.
Lorenzi had the opportunity to work with the Husky senior this spring and immediately liked what she saw.
“She’s a great kid,” the head coach said. “And she wants to learn, she wants to get better, and she learns at a very fast rate.”
Campbell will give the Corsairs a big presence on the front line of defense, and is expected to have an immediate impact after a year at HSU, while helping to shore up what was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses a year ago.
“She’s big and powerful,” Lorenzi said of the 6-foot former Arcata standout.
The head coach, who is expecting five or six players back from last year’s 5-15 team, will also welcome a pair of new defensive specialists from Oregon, Mahryahna Callegari and Alexis Goodman, as well as outside hitter Anabelle Nixon from Santa Cruz.
“We’ll have a decent sized roster this year,” Lorenzi said.
Rounding out the class of recruits is Sara Malone from Pasadena.