Her first day on the job, first-year San Luis Obispo girls volleyball coach Marci Beddall got a crash course in the history of the PAC 8 that went like this: Arroyo Grande is really good.
“I said ‘all right, I know nothing so tell me who’s our biggest rival, who’s going to be our biggest competition,’ ” Beddall said. “And they were like ‘Arroyo Grande, hands down. They beat us every year.’ ”
Not only did Arroyo Grande beat San Luis Obispo every year, but they also beat everyone else in the PAC 8. The last time the Eagles girls volleyball team lost a league match was Oct. 20, 2011.
Exactly four years later, on Tuesday night, students stormed the court after San Luis Obispo ended the Eagles’ 49-match winning streak with a straight-set win.
“I’m still in shock,” said senior outside hitter Holland Boege, who was in 8th grade the last time Arroyo Grande lost a league match. “I’ve never been on a team that came together so well. Every single person on our team contributed; kills, digs, whatever it was.”
Boege led all hitters with 15 kills to go along with seven digs and two aces. Classmate Morgan Day added 14 kills and 10 digs.
“We all just played really well together and we were all so focused,” Day said at practice Wednesday.
A rowdy student section helped give the Tigers energy, but Beddall says it was a change in scheme that was the biggest difference in dethroning the Eagles.
“We had three blockers up almost every single time, and I don’t think they were used to that,” Beddall said of defending Arroyo Grande’s two big hitters, Emily Sonny and Ashlyn Herlihy. “That frustrated them because they are used to just going up and being able to hit wherever they want.”
In the last meeting between the teams, Sonny and Herlihy did exactly that.
“They killed us,” Beddall said. “It wasn’t even close.”
Sonny had 24 kills and Herlihy had 13 in a 3-0 win over San Luis Obispo on Sept. 24. It was so ugly that Beddall says she didn’t want to show her team the game video.
She also didn’t have a choice. There was no video thanks to a computer malfunction.
Morgan and Rilee Day’s father recorded the game, but when he went to upload the video disaster struck.
“My dad had trouble trying to set up the camera and our computer crashed, so we weren’t able to get all the videos,” Morgan said.
Eventually, with the help of a professional, the Arroyo Grande game video was recovered and was instrumental in preparation for Tuesday’s match, Beddall said.
“To have a little bit of distance and revisit the game after a while was such a good learning tool for them,” Beddall said. “It’s one thing for a coach to tell you what you’re doing and another to have that realization.”
On Wednesday, the players were still basking in the glow of victory.
“The girls are so funny, they said everybody is treating us like royalty,” Beddall said. “I think that they know that they are part of history, which is awesome.”
“It definitely made my senior year,” Boege said.
Beddall says the win over Arroyo Grande (16-3, 9-1 PAC 8) is one the players will remember forever, but added that it’s going to mean nothing if the team doesn’t win the PAC 8.
The Tigers (18-9, 9-1 PAC 8) still have four games left on the schedule, including the final match of the season against a strong Mission Prep team. San Luis Obispo will likely have to win out to keep pace with Arroyo Grande and have a shot at co-PAC 8 champions.
But Beddall and the rest of the Tigers hope to ride the historic wave as far as it will take them.
“Beating AG definitely proved to ourselves how good we are,” Boege said. “I think it gave us a new confidence.”
PAC 8 Kill Leaders
Ashlyn Herlihy (Arroyo Grande): 264
Emily Sonny (Arroyo Grande): 236
Holland Boege (San Luis Obispo): 179
Kaylie Griffin (Atascadero): 167
Madison Boncich (Mission Prep): 159