Shanahan, Nunez and Curtis named league MVPs in volleyball

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Lili Nunez

By Ray Hamill — When your team is as good as the Del Norte Warriors were this season, you need two MVP awards.

The H-DNL announced the MVPs and all-league honors for both the Big 5 and Little 5 this week and it was no surprise to see a pair of MVPs in the former.

Seniors McKenna Curtis and Lili Nunez were crowned co-MVPs after each played a pivotal role in leading the Warriors to a perfect league campaign that saw them win all eight of their Big 5 games in straight sets.

In the Little 5, St. Bernard’s senior Madelyn Shanahan was named MVP for the second straight year after another dominating fall for the conference champs.

Shanahan and her teammates enjoyed an historic season and reached the NorCal playoffs after clinching the school’s first-ever North Coast Section championship in the sport this past weekend.

Both Curtis and Nunez also were phenomenal for the Warriors on their way to being named MVPs.

The senior stars helped set the tone for the Warriors along with their teammates way back in the preseason by putting in a lot of work in the weight room, which all of the coaches felt was key to their success.

“Both of these girls led the team through their performance and consistent mental game,” Del Norte head coach Meagan Curtis said. “Lili set balls that most others wouldn’t even try to set with their hands. Her hard work led to more offensive opportunities for our hitters.

“McKenna led our offense and was unstoppable throughout league play.”

The duo’s consistency was key for the Warriors.

“We could depend on both of them to perform in every match,” the head coach added.

Curtis will take her talents to the college volleyball courts after graduating in 2024, while Nunez will have plenty of options and is also a standout basketball player and one of the best javelin throwers in the state.

Shanahan also is a multi-sport star and will likely also be a frontrunner for Little 4 MVP in soccer, an award she took home a year ago.

Madelyn Shanahan

McKenna Curtis

But it’s the intangibles she brings that makes her a true MVP.

“She’s incredible,” St. Bernard’s volleyball coach Wendy Joyner said. “She just brings a lot of energy to the floor and she always has a positive attitude. She’s just a great player.”

All three MVPs were joined by several teammates on the all-league teams.

In fact, all 11 players on the Del Norte roster received some all-league recognition.

Seniors Reece White and Breann Winingham, who each also played big roles for the undefeated league champions, were named to the all-league first team, while Bliss Blackburn, Ava O’Reilley, Lauren Stutes, Khloe Smith, Tsinte Steinruck, Ariana Stansbury and Carlee Harper all received an honorable mention.

The Arcata Tigers pushed the Warriors all the way to the last week in the race for the league championship and were rewarded with a pair of all-league selections, Audrey Dart and Bella Campbell.

Rihanna Fontenot

Eureka senior co-captains Isis Poteet and Anisha Mae Rechelluul each also were named to the all-league first team, along with Fortuna’s  Grace Scalacci and Madisyn Hayes and McKinleyville’s Roenn Doran.

In addition to Shanahan, nine other players were included on the Little 5 all-league first team.

The champion Crusaders had four selections, with the influential Sahara Tupua, Rihanna Fontenot and Jocelyn Sundberg also included.

Ferndale’s Clara Albee and Saige Machado were also named all-league, along with Hoopa’s Annie Lanning and Tahlia Booth.

Northcoast Prep’s Aisha Pevec and South Fork’s Aliya Burns rounded out the all-league team.

Del Norte’s Breann Winingham and Reece White


Del Norte — Bliss Blackburn, Ava O’Reilley, Lauren Stutes, Khloe Smith, Tsinte Steinruck, Ariana Standsbury and Carlee Harper

Arcata — Nora Talty, Quincy Collins and Melanie Luh

Eureka — Samara Gaither, Aimee Rogers and Tiarah Maualuga

Fortuna — Anna Stacy and Khalil Lodes


St. Bernard’s — Brittyn Ikeya and Nina Clayton

Ferndale — Amaya Mathews and Danica Dowd

Hoopa — Brooklynn Kurtz, Natalia Flores and Tashee Tracy

NPA — Skyler Gifford

South Fork — Olivia Watson and Mackenzie Coleman

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