ATASCADERO — Last season the Atascadero Greyhounds girls varsity team finished second in the PAC 5 with a record of 18-13 and 12-2 in league and their season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of Oaks Christian. Their lone two losses in league came at the hands of the PAC 5 champions, Arroyo Grande, who landed their entire starting six on the all-league list, including the County Player of the Year.
The Hounds landed four players on the all-league list, but only two are returning. First-teamers Abby Wright and Taylor Degnan graduated.
Second-teamer Stephanie Monson is coming back along with Kylee Degnan, who was an honorable mention as a sophomore.
While the Hounds did graduate their two star players from a year ago in Degnan and Wright, they were a young team and only graduated four players from last year’s team while the reigning champions graduated five all-leaguers.
“We have an older team,” Natalie DeRose said. “We don’t have any sophomores on the team, we have a lot of juniors and seniors.”
Atascadero also comes into this season with a new head coach in Tanya Degnan and a new sense of confidence.
“Our game is definitely more threatening,” Monson said. “And we feel more prepared to fight back because now were are tops so now people are going to have to fight for Atascadero and we are preparing for that.”
This is Degnan’s second stint as the Greyhounds coach and she has less time to put her imprint on this team than in years past because the Central Section starts playing its games earlier than the Central Coast typically does, but that hasn’t stopped her from getting her message across.
“It’s just been great, she has been doing a lot of great things and I enjoy it,” DeRose said. “I love seeing different views and doing different drills because different coaches have different views and what they prefer and stuff.”
Kylee Degnan is a key returner as the team’s setter because she touches the ball on nearly every play, and after earning honorable mention as a sophomore, this year she hopes to continue to improve.
“It was always a lot of pressure [last year] because my sisters are so good at volleyball,” Degnan said. “So coming up and trying to fill that position was very stressful but it has always been a dream of mine to be on varsity as long as I can so when I got it, it was very humbling but very nerve-racking.”
With the move to the Central Section also comes the shuffling of the leagues and a new rivalry could be beginning this year. The Templeton Eagles volleyball team, who finished last season 24-5 and undefeated in the Los Padres League, will be playing in the Mountain League this year, meaning for the first time in recent memory the Hounds and the Eagles will play meaningful games. This has potential to set up a nice intra-county rivalry seeing as many locals don’t even know where the line for Atascadero stops and Templeton begins.
The Hounds will play a scrimmage against Nipomo High School in Nipomo on Monday and will begin their season at home on Aug. 22 against Pioneer Valley.