Twelve girls knelt beneath a banner along a wall in the gymnasium, displaying a passion for more than slams, spikes and sets.
The scene was washed in pink pink headbands, pink socks, pink shoelaces. Even the tape that held the poster to the wall was pink.
If you look closely, Enochs volleyball coach Cathi Varni says, chances are you'll find a bit of it on their palms, too.
"They had a good time with it," Varni said.
Around the world, October represents more than ghouls and goblins, costumes and candy. It's also breast cancer awareness month, and shows of awareness and activism have cropped up all over the Stanislaus District's athletic arenas.
Enochs, a team in the thick of a Modesto Metro Conference championship hunt, has taken the next step.
Long a supporter of Susan G. Komen for a Cure, the Eagles volleyball program will use their remaining October home dates to raise money for a cure.
Varni said fans attending Thursday's 1-vs.-2 showdown with unbeaten Gregori and Senior Night against Davis on Oct. 30 will be encouraged to make a separate donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation.
The fundraiser began last Tuesday during a 3-1 victory over Beyer. And though the results were sparce, Varni says her girls feel a sense of obligation to the campaign.
They won't give up.
"I'm trying to get the girls to think outside the box," said Varni, who lost her grandmother to breast cancer and coached a girl during Enochs' infancy whose mother also battled the disease.
"Helping them help other people. They were excited to see what kind of money was in the box. They were disappointed, but as coaches we have to be a little more vigilant. We have to tell them to talk to their parents.
"If we remind (the kids), hopefully they remind their parents, and on and on it goes. It's one of those things that needs to catch on."
There has been a bonus to all this fund-raising.
One year after sharing the MMC crown with Gregori, Enochs appeared to be in rebuilding mode. A handful of players from the championship team either graduated, moved away or moved on.
Varni was forced to call on four sophomores to surround an MVP-caliber player in senior outside hitter Shania Williams and junior setter Kelsey Kamiya.
A three-year varsity player, Williams has twice been named to an all-tournament team and leads Enochs in kills (331), digs (198) and aces (55). Kamiya orchestrates the Eagles' attack, and her 311 assists are already 16 more than she had all of last season.
The cast of babyfaced sophomores: Jerricka Lindsey, Katelyn Martin, Jessica Gilbert and Miranda Herrera. Gilbert tops the team in blocks (52).
Enochs (17-8-2, 8-1 MMC) is a much better team with much better chemistry than Varni had anticipated it would be.
"Our record of 7-1 proves that they have been working hard to come together as a team," Varni said.
Their campaign against breast cancer has strengthened those bonds.
"This is my favorite month for volleyball, because of the cause," said Williams, who has scheduled a recruiting visit to UC Santa Cruz.
"It brings us together as a team. We all wear pink."
The team kicked off the month of October with a team-building party at junior Zaryn Johnson's house.
There, the girls created the pink accessories to compliment their game uniforms every Tuesday and Thursday evening and hatched the idea for the fundraiser.
Varni has noticed a difference on the court. Her team is 4-1 in the month of October, with its only loss to Gregori on Oct. 2, and is surging toward a fourth Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance.
An upset victory over Gregori (26-0, 9-0) a team that hasn't lost a game since Sept. 8 would put Enochs in position to retain its share of the conference title with one match left.
The Eagles close with a home date against Davis (3-4 MMC), a team it swept in its first meeting.
Regardless, Enochs will play its final regular-season matches with a purpose beyond victories and championships. Think pink.
"We do this kind of stuff every year. They've tie-dyed shirts and tie-dyed socks. You know, everything turns pink for awhile," Varni said. "We have fun with it. The girls love it.
"There is always someone who's mom or grandmother who has gone through it, or is going through it. The girls enjoy it; it's something we look forward to."
James Burns is the Regional Sports Content Editor of The Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2324.Playing In Pink