Brendan Yu
Curry Coastal Pilot

“They know they have room for imporvement, but their attitude is really good, and they’re working hard and they are working pretty well together.”

— Head coach Dana Newdall

The Gold Beach volleyball team scrapped as hard as they could for every point, but ultimately found themselves overwhelmed by a much more physical and experienced Del Norte team in a 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-4) loss at home on Thursday night.

While the end score mirrors the result from their meeting last year — a 3-0 loss at Del Norte — the efforts and mental fortitude displayed by the Panthers were markedly improved, according to head coach Dana Newdall.

“They walked out from this game tonight proud that they were super scrappy,” Newdall said. “They know they have room for improvement, but their attitude is really good, and they’re working hard and they are working pretty well together.

“I feel like this is probably the best working unit that I’ve walked into the season.”

Junior middle blocker Kayleanna Ridens paced the Panthers with three kills, while junior libero Bella Laurino had a match-high 13 digs.

The Panthers (0-2) and Warriors (2-0) were relatively even early on in the first set as neither team pulled ahead by more than three points at any given time. However Del Norte soon capitalized on multiple Gold Beach service and attack errors to go on a 6-1 run and take a 17-10 lead. The Warriors managed to temporarily stymie the Warrior onslaught with a three point run sparked by a block from sophomore outside hitter Alyssa McLean and a service ace by Ridens to cut the deficit to 13-17, but would only manage two more points the rest of the set.

“I think part of it is they started making less errors. They started finding the weaknesses, the holes, so it’s just, it’s hard- they’re a huge school, very big program, very good program, we were actually extremely happy that we stayed with them,” said Newdall on the shift in the game. “But when we were scrapping, they were setting up plays. They continued to set up plays and they made less errors.”

Much like the first set, the Panthers stayed close with the Warriors early in the second, but once again the visiting team would pull ahead — this time with 10 unanswered points to take a 15-4 lead and prompt a Gold Beach timeout. The two teams took turns siding out after the break, only for the Warriors to go on another unanswered run to lead 22-6. The Panthers rallied back and won five of the next seven point, but the 16-point deficit proved too big to overcome.

In the final set, the Warriors started firing on all cylinders as it was all the Panthers could do to try and get a hand on the ball. Del Norte opened the set with nine straight points before Gold Beach managed to get on the board, and would only the Panthers three more points before completing the sweep.

While the Panthers had no problems putting the ball away at the net, they struggled with passing throughout the evening that saw their setter go through extended periods without touching the ball.

“Our hitters really didn’t get the opportunity to really try to score, cause they just didn’t get very many sets,” Newdall said. “That’s probably the biggest problem. We were happy to keep the ball in play, but we weren’t passing well enough to really set it well and get kills.

Although the outcome may have been rough, Newdall is nonetheless pleased at the grit shown by her team.

“I think that it’s great to feel like we actually played with them for quite a bit of the team, (Del Norte) is way stronger than anybody we’ll see in our league,” Newdall said. “They actually feel really good about that.”

The Panthers return to action later today, Sept. 9, at Jerry Mulvey Invite at Hidden Valley High against an opponent to be determined at 7 p.m.