October may be the official month of breast cancer awareness, but that didn’t stop the Bel Air High and Patterson Mill girls’ volleyball teams from getting a jump start on the activities by participating in the 2010 Dig Pink game, on Tuesday.

Raising more than $2,000 for the Side-Out Foundation, an organization to unite the volleyball community in the battle against breast cancer, the two teams battled on a 900-square-foot surface with the Bobcats emerging victorious over the Huskies in three games, 25-20, 27-25 and 25-23.

“Today was a really big game for us, especially because it was a home game and we were hosting a team,” Bel Air senior Kat Murphy said.  “I think we kept our heads high and played as hard as we could, and I think that really contributed to our win in only three games.”

In the first of three very closely played games, the Bobcats were able to work their way to a quick lead, and seeing the game tied at 11-11, used the skillful ball placement by Murphy to bump an errant Bel Air hit to set up the game one winner.

In game two, the Huskies came out hot with six unanswered points, and led the game 23-21 before the Bobcats were able to tie the game at 23-23.  After battling three game points later, Bel Air junior Taylor Cole merely tapped the ball over the net to secure the second win.

“The girls, all of them, came together,” Bobcat head coach Tim Markland said.  “There were times when we were up, and there were times when we were down, and it was a complete team effort on the court.

“They never lost focus. There was so much going on around the court with the fan-ship, and the pink, and the yelling and the cheering, and the biggest thing I preached to them was, ‘Yeah, all this is great, but we still have a volleyball game to focus on.’”

The Huskies’ Carlee Lund, Morgan Golec and Lauren Cappellini weren’t able to find the immediate success they had in game two, and Patterson Mill quickly fell to a 7-1 deficit in game three, but played back to 21-20 before the pinpoint spikes from Bobcat freshmen Amanda Rodriguez and Celeste Roland sealed the match for Bel Air.

“You get top play up and everyone is really supportive,” Roland explained, being one of just two freshmen on the Bel Air roster.  “The higher game helps you improve your game.”

“They never game up,” Markland said of Patterson Mill. “It was a constant fight back and forth.  They had great defense on the other side of the net, they were playing till the whistle blew and it made it a tough task to win tonight.”

The biggest winner was the Side-Out Foundation, which was established in 2004. Side-Out supports teams nationwide in volleyball tournaments, clinics and other fundraising efforts to help raise money for breast cancer research.

Offering support and educational material to the teams, Side-out uses the money collected by the teams and “contributes the funds to organizations that serve breast cancer patients, whether it be in the form of research, medical services or compassionate support,” according to the foundation’s website.

“They give you the basics of what they would like at the event and asked us to set a goal,” Markland said. “I told them our goal was $2,000, they said, “’Oh great, most people say $500.’”

Markland said the teams easily cleared the $2,000 goal set for the Dig Pink game, where the two teams donated the proceeds from concessions, t-shirts, wristbands, raffles, donations and contributions from the Chili’s Restaurant in Bel Air.

“The kids at the school were just phenomenal in wearing pink to school and coming out to the game,” Markland said.  “This is the biggest crowd that I have seen at a girls volleyball game in Bel Air since I have been teaching here.

The parent help that it took to get the door prizes and t-shirts together, all of those proceeds go to the Side-Out Foundation.”

If you would like to learn more about Side-Out and their help with breast cancer, go to its at www.side-out.org.

“It was a great night for volleyball, and to back it up with what we are doing for breast cancer awareness, it was just an outstanding night that hopefully these ladies remember for a long time,” said Markland.

To view videos, click on the Related Videos link above.