Del Norte

League champions crowned in Big 5 and Little 4 volleyball

File photo – The Del Norte girls have dropped just three sets in seven league games this year.

Thursday was a good night for both the Del Norte and St. Bernard’s volleyball programs.

The Warriors and Crusaders were each crowned outright league champions with victories, as both inched closer to an undefeated league campaign.

The St. Bernard’s girls improved to 7-0 in the Little 4 with a 25-5, 25-7, 25-15 win over South Fork and will host Hoopa in their final league game on Tuesday.

Del Norte, meanwhile, won 17-25, 25-16, 31-29, 30-28 at Eureka in what is likely to be the final volleyball game ever played at the iconic Jay Willard Gymnasium.

The Warriors, who came into the game guaranteed at least a share of the league title, rallied from an early one-set deficit to pull out the victory and keep their remarkable season going strong.

They are now 7-0 in the Big 5.

But the Loggers made them battle all the way in exciting and long third and fourth sets.

McKenna Curtis had another big night in the win and finished with 19 kills, while teammate Lauren Stutes had eight kills, Bliss Blackburn had seven kills and Reece White had six.

The league championship also guarantees the Warriors a home game in the North Coast Section playoffs.

The dropped opening set was the first the Del Norte girls have lost in league play since opening night and ended a run of 17 consecutive winning sets.

The warriors are currently the No. 4 ranked team in NCS Division-4, according to MaxPreps.

The Loggers, meanwhile, celebrated their eight seniors before Thursday’s game.

“We played really well tonight and fought through a lot of adversity taking Del Norte to four intense games,” Eureka head coach Stephanie Napoleon said. “It was an emotional night.”

Mariah Napoleon led the Loggers with 13 kills, four aces and two blocks, while teammate Maeghan Hampton added nine kills and three aces.

Aniah Gaither also had three kills and a block and Pule Fonoti added 15 assists and an ace.

Eureka dropped to 4-3 in league play.

Photos by Lacy Victoria – Some photos from Senior Night at Eureka on Thursday.

The Crusaders, meanwhile, kept their undefeated run in league play going as head coach Wendy Joyner went deep to her bench with all of her players getting plenty of playing time.

Madelyn Shanahan played just one set and finished with a team-best 12 kills, while teammate Rihanna Fontenot added six kills.

As a team, the Crusaders had 24 aces.

The SB girls also played the game in honor of Kira Yuja Norton, a former McKinleyville High volleyball player who passed away at the age of 26 last week.

Joyner coached Norton for four years with the Panthers and described the players’ gesture as “special.”

The Ferndale Wildcats, meanwhile, improved to 5-3 in league play and 9-7 overall with a 25-14, 25-7, 25-10 win over Northcoast Prep on senior night at Ferndale.

Seniors Kyla Albee, Tia Henrikson and Lexie Blake all had big nights.

“We played well as a team tonight,” assistant coach Terra Albee said. “Everyone contributed to the win and communication was key.

“We are extremely proud of our seniors and the leadership they have showed throughout the whole season.”

Kyla Albee finished a team-high 13 kills and nine digs, as well as four aces, while Henrickson added seven assists, five kills and four aces and Blake had three aces and a kill.

Saige Macahdo also had a good night in the win and finished with eight digs and four aces, as did Jordan Soderman, who had 11 assists, three aces and three digs.

Cate Carrizales (thee digs and a kill) and Lauren Scalvini (three aces and a dig) each also played well.

The Ferndale JVs also were in action just two days after they thought they had played their final game of the season, adding a late matchup against NCP, which was able to field a JV team.

The Wildcats won 26-24, 25-14 with some consistent serving helping set the tone. 

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