The Atascadero Greyhounds girls volleyball team will hit the road for their first-round Central Section Division 2 playoff game and travel to Bakersfield to face Bakersfield Christian High School at 7 p.m. today, Oct. 25. Atascadero finished the season 22-12 overall with a 5-7 record in the Mountain League which placed them fourth.
The Hounds enter the D2 playoffs as a 14 seed, and with only one other seed lower than them in their half of the bracket, they will be on the road for the entirety of the playoffs unless a 14 seed and 15 seed meet in the semifinal on Nov. 1. Atascadero enters the playoffs with a 7-3 record in their last 10 games but dropped games to Templeton, SLO and Arroyo Grande — all of which are currently playoff teams — at the end of the season.
Atascadero and Bakersfield Christian did not play each other this season but they did play four of the same teams in Clovis East, Centennial, Golden Valley
The Hounds will look to feed junior Mackenzie Wright the ball early and often on Thursday. She led the team in kills this year with 343 kills and a 35 percent kill percentage. Wright added 53 aces on the year and was also instrumental in keeping rallies going with 360 digs.
Junior Kylee Degnan has been a jack of all trades for the Hounds this season. As a sophomore, she earned honorable mention as a setter and worked all offseason to put herself in a position to score. Degnan began the year as the team's setter but, thanks to the emergence of Olivia Sprouse, Degnan was able to move around and finished second on the team in kills at 196. Degnan still led the team in assists with 501 — Sprouse finished with 359 — and aces with 71 and also registered 257 digs, according to Maxpreps.com.
The senior duo of Stephanie Monson and Julia Debruin, who combined for 82 blocks, 39 and 43, respectively, this season will be a big part of the Hounds defense that will be facing the Eagles three-headed monster. Monson, who earned second-team all-league as a junior last year, missed some time earlier in the season but also added 101 kills for Atascadero this season and can, at times, take over games.
Senior Natalie DeRose has been the vocal and emotional leader on the team for Atascadero and her defense has been stellar. DeRose tallied 433 digs for the Hounds this year, including setting her single-game high of 40 digs in a comeback win against the Bearcats on Oct. 2.
Senior Hannah Hagy finished second on the team in kills this season with 151 and also added 19 blocks.
Bakersfield Christian is a three seed in these playoffs with a 20-7 record and a 10-0 record in the South Yosemite League. The Eagles enter the playoffs having won 14 straight games. Their last loss was on Sept. 7.
The Eagles are led by a freshman and senior combo of Ashley Herman and Jessica Stump. Herman is 5-11 wears No. 15 and led the team in kills with 223 (55 percent kill rate) in only her first year of high school. Stump is the team's tallest player at 6-0 and excels at defense, recording 76 blocks this season to go along with 153 kills.
Bakersfield Christian went 7-0 at home this season while the Hounds were 4-3 on the road. Atascadero is currently in the bottom half of the bracket while Templeton and San Luis Obispo are in the top half, meaning that Atascadero could only meet a Central Coast team if it was for the CIF title.
Atascadero will play the winner of Mt. Whitney and Tehachapi on Oct. 30 if they advance.