Warriors edge Hounds in fifth set

ATASCADERO — The undefeated Atascadero Greyhounds girls volleyball team opened their Mountain League play Tuesday night by hosting the undefeated Righetti Warriors. Atascadero came into the game 3-0 after defeating Pioneer Valley in straight sets, Morro Bay in straight sets, and St. Joseph, 3-1, and had a chance up 18-17 in the fifth set against Righetti to begin league play with a victory but just barely lost what will undoubtedly be one of the best games of the year.

“I told them that was one of the best games of volleyball that I have seen in a long time. We showed so much heart, we did not give up all the way till the very last point,” Greyhounds head coach Tanya Degnan said following the game on Sept. 4.

The Warriors took the first set from the Hounds, 25-20, before Atascadero won the next two sets 25-18 each. The Hounds’ only lead in the fourth set came at 20-19, but were unable to hold off a fifth set from the Warriors.

The fifth set played out like a championship game in a Disney movie. Atascadero jumped out to an early 4-0 lead that sent the Atascadero gym into a frenzy. After a Righetti timeout, the Hounds then stretched their lead to 8-2 and the girls celebrated after each point.

Righetti then went on an 8-2 run, tying the game at 10. The two teams continued to trade blows tying at 13, 14, and 15 and forcing the game into overtime.

“It was really exciting, but also nervous, but I love it,” AHS libero Natalie DeRose said.  “When it is tight like that, you really get that adrenaline rush and you get really pumped and it just goes back and forth.”

In overtime a total of five game points were battled off by both teams combined. Atascadero had its first chance up 17-16 after Kylee Degnan served an ace and had another chance up 18-17, but Righetti kept making plays. Parents and fans in the stands were left time and time again with their hands on their cheeks, mouth agape, in disbelief as to what they were watching.

The Warriors eventually won the final set 20-18 and the match 3-2.

“It was a battle through the whole game, there was ups and downs through the whole match, but I was so proud of them,” coach Degnan said. “Our goal going into this game was to stick together and to lean on each other when times got down and that is what we did.”

The Greyhounds played like a team. Mackenzie Wright and Hannah Hagy each took turns hammering shots from either side of the court and finished with 17 and 16 kills, respectively. Natalie Derose was constantly diving across the floor to dig the hard shots  that seemed like sure points from Righetti’s star senior captain Jessica Powell and recorded 24 digs. Setter Kylee Degnan recorded 32 assists to go with 10 big kills and Stephanie Monson added 12 kills and four blocks. Monson, Mikenna Goldensmith and Lindsay Killig all came up big in the front row. Different mixtures of those three presented problems for the Warriors much of the night, not always recording blocks, but also through deflections and altering shots.

“After a game like that it is so hard not to hang your head,” Tanya Degnan said. “But I said it just proves that we can play some really good volleyball and everybody was out there and we were doing a lot of things right. I think it is a positive direction for us as we continue into league.”

Atascadero hopes to pack the gym on Thursday night as they host the Paso Robles Bearcats and look to get back to even in the Mountain League. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.


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