ATASCADERO — This past Thursday night the Atascadero women’s volleyball team took on their biggest rival, the Paso Robles Bearcats, at home in front of a rowdy crowd. For the first time this season both sides of the bleachers were down for the volleyball game as fans from Atascadero and Paso Robles cannot be seen sitting next to one another. The Bearcats students made the 15-minute drive and filled up a section of the visitors side bleachers. The Bearcats student section was loud and ruckuss all night long, often voicing their displeasure with calls made by the officials and the line judges. At times, chants of “let's go Bearcats!” echoed throughout the arena as the only discernable sound louder than the buzzer of the scoreboard or the whistle of the referee. One student even performed “the worm,” but their energy and spirit was not enough to help their girls who lost in straight sets to the Greyhounds and trailed big from the very beginning.
The atmosphere was electric Thursday. Every point in the first game of the match was celebrated with coordinated cheers, passionate screams and fist pumps that would make even Tiger Woods jealous. The Greyhounds played exceptional all night long, never giving the Bearcats any life or glimmer of hope. Atascadero jumped out to an early 9-2 lead in the first set, forcing Paso Robles Head Coach Samantha Woolf to call her first time out. However, there was no amount of time outs that were going to help the Bearcats on this night — Atascadero was determined to make a statement and a statement they did make.
“Ahh, beating Paso, that’s awesome!” Atascadero co-captain Taylor Degnan said after the game, “They beat us both last year and we were really hungry to get them.”
While beating Paso Robles is always important to every Atascadero team, the girls have been working hard all summer for just this occasion.
“It feels really great, we deserve it, we have been working so hard in our practices and I think that we have been working for months for just this night,” Head Coach Rachel Coons said after the game.
The Greyhounds cruised to victory in the first set, winning 25-13, with the closest the score in the match being the initial one, 0-0. At one point, Paso was within five points of a tie, but Atascadero quickly pulled away. The second set was more of the same for Atascadero, winning this time by their widest margin, 25-10. The Greyhounds opened the second set with two consecutive aces from senior Lyndsi Edmonston, which ended up acting as strong foreshadowing for how the rest of the game would go. After Paso registered their first point, Abby Wright went to end line to serve for the Hounds and stayed there for 11 straight points as they built up a 12-1 lead against their bitter rival. Both captains, Wright and Degnan, played fantastic. Each seemed to hit whichever shot they wanted, whenever they wanted. Degnan would power a couple of kills down the line and then casually dink the next one of the Paso blockers for an easy point.
“Taylor Degnan had 16 kills, five digs and was just on it, she even served the game winning point,” Coons said.
In the lull before the third set, a cheering match broke out between the Atascadero student section (the dogpound) and the Paso Student section. The third set was by far the most competitive, but ended with the same result. Atascadero finished their opponent in straight sets to a chorus of their own student section cheering “Let’s go Greyhounds!” The score of the final set was 25-20.
“We were super pumped the whole day at school,” Degnan said. “We would walk by and be like ‘we’re ready for Paso, we got this.’ Outside we did our cheers and of course our dog pound, our student section, helps us so much. Our school is just great so I think with everyone's help it really just helped us.”
It was another complete match from start to finish for the Greyhounds, who have been on a tear recently. They are currently 5-0 in league play and have only lost one set in that stretch. In fact, the Hounds have only lost one match this season (excluding tournament play) and that came in only their second game of the season. Atascadero is currently tied atop the PAC 8 with Arroyo Grande, which is also undefeated in league. The stage is set for another huge game this week when the Greyhounds welcome in the Eagles on Thursday for a battle of sole possession of first place in the PAC 8.