For the third time in program history, the College of the Canyons women's volleyball is heading to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Women's Volleyball State Tournament, after sweeping El Camino College on Saturday night at the Cougar Cage. Set scores were 25-20, 26-24, and 25-23.
The 2017 CCCAA Women's Volleyball State Championship will be held Dec. 1-3 at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif. The eight-team, single elimination tourney will include four qualifiers from both the Northern California and Southern California regions.
Canyons (24-5) will be joined by Irvine Valley College (24-0), Mira Costa College (26-6), and San Diego City College (23-3) in representing the south.
Cabrillo College (29-1), Feather River College (26-7), San Joaquin Delta (23-4) and Folsom Lake College (24-4) will represent the northern region.
The Cougars are scheduled to face Feather River at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 in opening round tournament action. A full state championship tournament bracket and schedule can be found here.
"I couldn't be more impressed and proud of the group tonight," second year head coach Clay Timmons said. "We came out executing the game plan again pretty nicely against a strong team."
Emily Burns led the Cougars with 15 kills and five blocks, while Caroline Page and chipped in 13 kills. Shayla Johnson had a strong overall match with 11 kills, 11 digs, and four aces. Morgan Ferguson and Demi Dawson led the defense with seven blocks and 19 digs, respectively. Rachel Perez dished out 43 assists.
"We watched a lot of film before the match and I knew exactly what they were going to run," Ferguson said. "This win means a lot because we have gone through so many injuries and people definitely doubted us."
Set one started with Ferguson getting a kill off the high hands, but the Warriors responded with back-to-back blocks. It ended up being the only lead of the set for El Camino as the Cougars offense proved to be too much to handle. The Cougars won a long rally when the Warriors swung out wide, forcing a timeout while taking a 15-9 lead. The Warriors would get no closer than 18-15 the rest of the way. Burns fired three kills late in the set and the Cougars took a 1-0 lead on a kill down the middle.
Set two saw the Cougars take a quick lead on a double block from Ferguson and Burns. The pair teamed up on two more double blocks as the lead quickly grew to 4-0. The Warriors rallied, closing the lead to 10-8 before Page found the back line for a kill, which she then followed it up with a tool off the high hands. El Camino once again had an answer as Aiko Waters fired off two straight kills before a Burns attacking error tied the set at 14, forcing a Canyons timeout. El Camino had the first set-point at 24-23 but Bido kept the set alive with an off speed kill. A Ferguson swing pulled the Warriors into the net giving the Cougars a 25-24 lead and forcing a final ECC timeout. The set ended on a crush through the block from Page.
Set three was a flip of the script for the Warriors as they jumped out to a 6-1 lead, forcing an early timeout from Timmons and the Cougars. A Dawson ace closed the lead to 6-4 but the lead grew back to four for El Camino with back-to-back blocks. The lead for the Warriors continued to grow and reached 18-11 before the Cougars mounted a comeback starting with kills from Johnson and Bido. Burns then fired an ace to close the lead to three, prompting a timeout from El Camino. However, the Warriors pushed the lead back to five before Kelsey Strong checked into the game and fired an ace to cut into the lead. Ferguson and Burns teamed up for another double block followed directly by two straight kills from Burns to tie the set. Another Burns kill brought up a match point before Johnson fired a shot that trickled on the top of the net before hitting the floor, sending the crowd into a frenzy and the Cougars to the state championship tournament.
"We came out strong and followed true to our game plan," Johnson said. "It was surreal to see the scoreboard in set three. I thought we still had it, and I knew that at some point we were going to turn it back on."
"I'm very appreciative and proud of the team," Timmons added. "It validates what coach Nate Sparks and I have been doing all season long. We are in a really good place as a coaching staff and as a team."
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
— Brandon Johnson/COC Sports Information
—Photo credit Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information