The Del Norte Warriors will celebrate an outstanding senior class and a league championship in volleyball in front of a home crowd in game against Fortuna on Thursday night.
On Tuesday, the Warriors traveled to Fortuna and came away with yet another straight sets win to secure what we’ve all known was coming for the past few weeks.
With a 25-7, 25-17, 25-19 victory, the Del Norte girls clinched the Big 5 championship outright and guaranteed themselves a home playoff game next week.
But this is a team with bigger goals than defending the Big 5 title that nine of these players also won a year ago, and now they’ll turn their attention to the North Coast Section playoffs and hopefully a deep run into the postseason.
Last season, they won their opening playoff game before falling to St. Mary’s in the quarterfinals.
This year, they’re hoping to at least qualify for the NorCal playoffs, a goal which can be achieved by reaching the NCS semifinals.
And after sweeping aside the rest of the H-DNL this fall and not dropping a single set in seven league games, there’s every reason to believe they can get there.
“This group would like to go as far as they possibly can,” head coach Meagan Curtis said. “It’s almost the same team (as last year). They’ve been there before, in that environment, and they’ve seen that level of play.”
Regardless of how they ultimately fare in the playoffs, which get under way next week, on Thursday these Warriors will celebrate a remarkable season and the five seniors who helped achieve that.
McKenna Curtis and Lili Nunez are both playing at an MVP level once again this season, while fellow seniors Reece White and Breann Winingham are worthy all-league candidates and Ava O’Reilley has also been a force for this team.
It’s a group of experienced athletes who work well together on the court.
“These girls have all played sports together for a long time,” the head coach said. “They’re all familiar with each other.”
That team chemistry has been pivotal in their success this year.
So too has their work ethic.
“This group was extremely consistent with just coming into the weight room all summer long,” Meagan Curtis added. “(Longtime coach) Pablo Lorenzi says this is the best weight room team we’ve had. They come in and they get the job done. They push themselves, and part of the reason (for their success) is they understand what the weight room experience brings.”
That hard work and understanding is paying off and the Del Norte girls can cap a perfect league campaign with a straight sets win on Thursday.
On Tuesday, McKenna Curtis led the team with14 kills and nine aces out of 28 serves, while Nunez had 30 assists.
Tsinte Steinruck added six kills and Lauren Stutes had five kills, while Bliss Blackburn had four digs and Carlee Harper and Khloe Smith had three digs each.