By Ray Hamill — There was a full slate of local volleyball action on Thursday night, as both the Big 5 and Little 5 began play.
In the Big 5, both Arcata and McKinleyville secured opening-night wins, getting the better of Fortuna and Del Norte, respectively.
In the Little 4, the St. Bernard’s Crusaders got the defense of their conference title off to a winning start with a victory over Southern Trinity.
The Crusaders won in straight sets, 25-9, 25-11, 25-21.
It was the St. Bernard’s girls second straight win after knocking off Eureka in four sets in an exciting matchup on Wednesday night.
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The Tigers and Panthers each got their Big 5 campaigns off to a winning start, carrying the momentum of a strong pre-league record into conference play.
The Panthers defeated the Warriors in four sets at McKinleyville High, 25-20, 25-17, 24-26, 25-15.
Lexi White led McKinleyville with 26 assists, 20 digs and three service aces, as the home team took control of the game to open up a two-set advantage.
The Heenan sisters, senior Rian and junior Cameron, each had a big say in the win, continuing what has been an impressive season so far for both.
The younger sister paced her team with 12 kills, to go with 12 digs and a pair of service aces, while Rian added 11 kills, three blocks and two service aces.
Teammate Kylee Townsend continued what has been an impressive week for her with 11 digs.
The visiting Warriors were never too far behind and battled back to take an exciting third set.
But the Panthers would not be denied, taking a decisive fourth set to pull out the win.
With the victory, the Mack girls improved to 11-4 overall.
No statistics were available for Del Norte.
Arcata 3, Fortuna 0
The Tigers swept their league opener at Fortuna, winning 25-13, 25-20, 25-19.
A shorthanded Fortuna team was led by Kenzie Hall, who finished with seven kills.
Teammate Kylee Fennell added five service aces, while Kendall Stewart had three service aces and a block.
In what has been an up and down season for the Huskies so far, injuries and small numbers have played a role.
Head coach Lynsey Adams has just eight players on her roster, and just seven healthy for their league opener.
The head coach, however, loves the attitude she has seen from her players so far, as they continue to gel.
Log on to Humboldt Sports on Friday afternoon for a more complete look at this year’s Fortuna team.
No stats were available for Arcata from Thursday night’s game.