ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Greyhounds girls volleyball team, fresh off a weekend tournament championship, hosted the Templeton Eagles on Tuesday night in a big league matchup early in the season.
Both are expected to be among the top teams in the Mountain League at the end of the year after the Hounds (11-1) finished second in the PAC 8 and the Eagles cruised through the Los Padres League last year.
The Eagles (3-2) return the Los Padres League’s most valuable player in Lauren Reeves and multiple all-league players from last year's team. While the Hounds lost their two leaders from a season ago, they have a deep and experienced team this year and are off to a hot start.
The crowd in Ewing Gymnasium was loud and divided into half orange and half green as the Eagles’ student section made the short trip south to support their team but was quieted quickly in the first set as the Hounds jumped out to a big lead.
Hannah Hagy was dropping serves wherever she wanted, recording at least three aces in the first game, and Templeton was forced to take a timeout down 6-1 and 14-6 in the first set, but never established any rhythm and lost the game 25-11.
Templeton came out ready to play in the second game, started serving like they were accustomed to and began unleashing their lethal offense. The Eagles took game two 25-18 and began game three up 8-0 as Reeves settled into a groove.
“We definitely practiced blocking that side on her because I knew all everything, 90 percent of the stuff was going towards her [Lauren Reeves],” Atascadero head coach Tanya Degnan said. “So we didn’t even worry about right-side hitting, I told my middle’s to cheat over, and if they set it back, then we’ll let them set it back, but we are rolling that way.”
Templeton’s Cheyenne Rice, who was first team all-league last year, entered the game in the third set. Rice, who has the ability to take games over as well, but has been battling injuries in the early part of this season, did not play in the Eagles loss to San Luis Obispo and only played sparingly against the Hounds.
Rice’s entrance gave the Eagles another boost and they took the third game, too, outlasting a furious Greyhound run at the end, 25-19.
With their backs against the wall, down 2-1, the Hounds returned to the form that won them the first game so handily. Atascadero found a weak spot in the Eagles’ defense and attacked it repeatedly on their serve, jumping out to a 20-9 lead. Templeton responded with an 11-3 run of its own, but could not complete the comeback and the Hounds forced a fifth game, winning 25-20.
“We knew they were going to have some tough swingers, especially Lauren [Reeves] and Cheyenne [Rice],” Atascadero’s Natalie DeRose said. “I have played with them in
The entire evening was an emotional roller coast of scoring runs, but Atascadero had the final one. The Hounds led 7-3 in the final set and celebrated together after winning 15-10.
The Hounds continued to spread the ball around as they have all season. Hagy finished the game 12 kills and seven aces, Kylee Degnan recorded eight kills and 12 setting assists and Mackenzie Wright added eight kills, five aces
Reeves recorded 19 kills for Templeton and Jena Kelly added seven, Camryn Roth was everywhere for the Eagles with 32 assists, four aces, five blocks and six digs.
“I think they are starting to understand that it is not going to be easy,” Schaeffer said. “It is not the Los Padres League anymore and we have to work every single day in the gym and in practice and come games because nothing is going to come easy.