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Greyhound volleyball players struggle to get footing

Katie McKinley digs the ball for a set up to Olivia Sprouse during a recent volleyball game.

Photo by Codi Carroll

Despite having Atascadero’s top players suffering injuries early in the season, and coming in with a nine game losing streak, the Greyhound volleyball team managed to pull out a second place win at a recent tournament at Sunnyside on Saturday, Sept. 28. The Hounds had to play six games in a row, but went undefeated in the first three matches against Lemoore, Fresno Christian, and Sierra, placing them in the gold bracket. Sophomore Megan Van Allen hurt her ankle, but the team was resilient and was used to having to shuffle their line up. Atascadero defeated Kerman in the quarterfinals and went on to defeat Edison in the semis. Lemoore bounced back from the previous loss and defeated the Hounds in the finals, bringing Atascadero to a record of 11-13.

Achieving the second place win in a tough tournament gave the volleyball team the encouragement they needed after a disappointing nine loss streak at the start of the season. The Hounds suffered some devastating losses against the top two teams from the Mountain League -- San Luis Obisbo and Arroyo Grande -- at home over the previous two weeks. On Thursday, Sept. 26, Atascadero faced the reigning champions, Arroyo Grande, but couldn't win a game and suffered a 0-3 defeat. The previous Thursday the Hounds suffered another 0-3 defeat against the San Luis Obisbo Tigers.

Early in the season on Sept. 12, the Atascadero girls volleyball team hosted an exciting home game against Paso Robles High School. The Bearcats walked in with a hot streak, coming off their 6-1 weekend at the Madera Volleyball tournament and their 3-0 takedown of Mission Prep on the previous Tuesday. The Greyhounds had to face this difficult matchup with two of their best players, junior Mia Perry and senior Mckenzie Wright, sitting on the sideline. Atascadero refused to back down, but struggled to keep up and lost three sets, letting the Bearcats take another win.

The Greyhounds started out with a rough first set against the Bearcats leading 0-4. A barrage of blocks and strikes by senior Kylee Degnan, gained Atascadero two points, bringing the Greyhounds to 2-4. The Bearcats fought back hard and gained a 12 point lead, but that did not discourage the determination of the Greyhounds. With an assist by Yarra Cherbinsky, a senior, and a spike delivered by Degnen brought the Greyhounds back into the game (3-14). Points were exchanged back and forth throughout the rest of the set. Atascadero pulled off an amazing rally lasting nearly two minutes thanks to Maren Brown, sophomore, defending against a nearly impossible strike, and scoring another point for the Greyhounds (12-22). Atascadero couldn’t push through the extreme lead Paso Robles had accumulated, leaving the final score for the first set at 14-25.

During the next set, the Greyhounds started out strong with a three point lead (3-0). The set was kept very consistent and was an even match. After a long set after a serve from the Bearcats, Lindsay Zillig, senior, tipped the ball over the net, making three of Paso’s team members leaping for the ball, and subsequently collide (10-12). Olivia Sprouse, senior, scored the Greyhounds their first ace of the match, bringing the score to 12-16. An extraordinary display of teamwork was performed through several assists by Sprouse, and three spikes continuously delivered by Degnan, had the Bearcats scrambling to gain composure. Eventually the Bearcats found an opening and ended the rally, and a few plays later ended the second set with a score of 16-25.

In the third and final set, Sprouse started off with the ball first and scored Atascadero an ace (1-0). The set was neck and neck, with the Bearcats fighting for the win, and the Greyhounds fighting for their honor. Points went back and forth until Paso Robles gained a four point lead (8-12). The Greyhounds battled on and evened the score with five consecutive points (13-12). The set went back to being neck and neck until the Bearcats pulled ahead and won the set 20-25, bringing this match to a 0-3 loss for the Greyhounds. “We have a lot of adversity and teamwork,” Zillig said, “While we have had a rough start, we have the potential to be a really good team.” Degnan restateted her thoughts and said, “We have a lot to improve on, but we played tough.”

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