High School Sports

Atascadero girls volleyball turns things around in win over San Luis Obispo

Hanna Reece helped lead Atascadero High to a 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 PAC 8 girls volleyball victory at San Luis Obispo on Tuesday. The win leaves the Greyhounds all alone in second place in the league standings.
Hanna Reece helped lead Atascadero High to a 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 PAC 8 girls volleyball victory at San Luis Obispo on Tuesday. The win leaves the Greyhounds all alone in second place in the league standings. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Katherine Sedley’s spike bounced off a San Luis Obispo hand before landing out of bounds and, for one last time, the Atascadero High girls volleyball team and its traveling pack of fans filled the San Luis Obispo gym with shouts of joy.

Tuesday’s sweep of the Tigers won’t be enough to completely erase the memory of a 3-0 home loss to San Luis Obispo earlier in the month, but it did offer some redemption for the Greyhounds while likely forcing a two-way tie for second place in the PAC 8.

“We didn’t want (the Oct. 2 loss) to affect us, and I think our team is really strong in that way,” said Atascadero senior libero and co-captain Sabrina Degnan after her team’s 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 win over the shorthanded Tigers on Tuesday.

“People may underestimate us; let them, but we’re going to come out there and give it all we got. So winning this game and showing everyone that we’re never going to give up really meant a lot to us.”

The Greyhounds, who lost 25-15, 25-9, 25-22 when the teams met at Ewing Gym, were vocally engaged and animated from the opening rally this time around, helping them pull away in all three sets — each of which contained at least eight ties.

“We didn’t do well last time, and that just gave us more motivation to come out strong and give it our all this time,” Sedley, a senior outside hitter and the team’s kill leader, said. “We wanted to show them we’re not that team that can just be picked on.”

Both sides were expecting more from the Greyhounds in the rematch, and they brought it. Meanwhile, the hometown Tigers’ energy was “much lower” than expected, coach Manny Carter said. “You know what’s at stake coming into the match, and I feel like Atascadero wanted it just a little more. They had that extra oomph.

“Stemming back from the last time we played them; we swept them at their place and it wasn’t pretty on their side. I kind of expected this type of match tonight because of that match up at Atascadero.”

Sedley had 12 kills and three blocks, Kaylie Griffin had 16 kills and Maren Cracknell added eight kills and five blocks. Junior setter and co-captain Brooke Harbottle dished out 38 assists for the Greyhounds (17-12, 10-2), who have won six straight.

“They just have the confidence now,” Atascadero coach Rachel Coons. “It took until halfway through the season to realize that we can beat teams like this, and I think they have the confidence to look at the other team and think ‘We’re going to do it.’ ”

It was San Luis Obispo’s second match without star junior Holland Boege, who rolled her ankle early in a 3-1 loss to league undefeated Arroyo Grande. Carter said the outside hitter is still feeling discomfort, and he hopes to have her back in a week with the postseason beginning Nov. 8.

“We’re hoping to get her back for the first round,” said Carter, who has also been without senior opposite hitter Liesl Eibschutz since a win over Mission Prep on Oct. 9.

“You expect (injuries) this time of year, but it’s hitting us all at one time.”

Sisters Morgan and Rilee Day filled the offensive void with Morgan, a junior, leading the Tigers with 12 kills and Rilee, a freshman, right behind her with 10.

“I knew that Morgan had a younger sister coming into this season,” Carter said of Rilee Day. “All you hear is what people say, but she came in this summer and was the real deal. She’s going to be the future of this program, that’s for sure.”

Merissa Brancart had 31 assists, and Callie Hamari had 14 digs for San Luis Obispo (20-7, 9-3), which led 22-19 in the first set, 18-17 in the second and 20-19 in the third but could never put together a run when it mattered most.

That honor belonged to the Greyhounds, who were urged on by a substantial crowd of orange that occupied half of the bleachers.

“We have a very, very supportive crowd,” Degnan said. “We all have at least one parent (at the match), and we’ve had a lot of student help, too.

“It really means a lot, because we know that our parents are there for us win or lose, so I think we also play for them, as well.”

It was more of the former on Tuesday.

Atascadero won six of the final seven points in the first, went on a 6-0 run to take a 24-19 in the second and broke a 22-22 tie in the third — the 13th tie of the set — with kills by Sedley and Cracknell.

“We don’t have one person that’s going to get the ball every time,” Coons said. “We have four strong hitters that we can mix it up and try different things with.”

The Greyhounds host Arroyo Grande on Thursday on what will be Atascadero’s Senior Night. Although a loss to the Eagles (22-3, 12-0) would still keep the Greyhounds tied with San Luis Obispo for second place, Atascadero is eager to carry over it momentum from Tuesday’s win and see where it goes.

“We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the year, and we’ve had our high- energy games and our low-energy games,” Sedley said. “It really is the difference between winning and losing.”