ATASCADERO — This past Thursday night the Paso Robles Bearcats volleyball team took on its biggest rival, the Atascadero Greyhounds, on the road in front of a rowdy crowd. For the first time this season both sides of the bleachers were down for a 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, and 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 seemed determined to make a statement after losing both their games to the Bearcats a year ago.
Slow starts in both of the first two games made it an uphill climb for the Bearcats. Paso fell behind Atascadero 3-9 in the first game and 1-12 in the second. Paso committed a number of unforced errors and had trouble hitting over the Greyhound blockers at times. Coach Woolf stated that the Bearcats are struggling within themselves right now and beating themselves.
“We have a lot of talent on the team and the girls give 110 percent in practice everyday, we just need to relax and play volleyball like we know how,” Coach Woolf also said in an e-mail after the game.
It was hard for the girls to relax in such a large rivalry game, especially with their student section cheering them on with such passion. Even with the score being lopsided the student section never backed down. The Bearcats students out cheered their Atascadero counterparts just before the start of the third set, even though their girls dropped the first set 13-25 and the second set 10-25. As a result, the Bearcats entered the third set with confidence. They jumped out to their first lead of the night in the third, leading 4-1, but then served into the net giving the ball back to the Hounds. The third set went back and forth, a timeout was called with the game knotted at 15 apiece. It was in this time out that one of the Paso students in the student section laid down on the floor and began performing the aforementioned “worm.” This led to the loudest cheering of the night, but it seemed to only feed the Greyhounds intensity as they won six consecutive points. The Bearcats lost the third and final set 20-25, losing in straight sets to their bitter rival.
The Bearcats are now 5-12 on the season and 2-3 in league. The Bearcats will play at home this Thursday when they welcome in the Knights of St. Joseph High School, and also have an important road league match Tuesday against Righetti.