After defeating Feather River College in the quarterfinal round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship tournament, College of the Canyons finished just short of reaching its first state final game when the Cougars lost to eventual-state champion Irvine Valley College in a heartbreaking five-set result.
In the process, freshman outside hitter Caroline Page earned an all-tournament selection for the Cougars, who finished tied for third in state to equal the program's best finish since 2015.
"With everything that has been thrown this team's way, much of it injury related, it never affected their belief in themselves and each other," COC head coach Clay Timmons said. "They fell in love with the process of getting better every day to meet the goals they knew they we're capable of."
South No. 3 College of the Canyons def North No. 2 Feather River College 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-20)
The Cougars celebrated their third ever trip to the state tournament by sweeping Feather River College to advance to the semi-finals. COC All-State opposite Emily Burns led the way with 15 kills while Caroline Page chipped in 10 kills (.455) and eight digs. Shayla Johnson and Demi Dawson (12 digs) each fired three aces for the Cougars who held a 9-2 advantage in that category.
The Golden Knights were led by All-State outside hitter Cyan Blackdeer's 15 kills. Precious Helekhai posted a double-double with 29 assists and 10 digs while Katie McKay paced the defense with 11 digs. Feather River finished its season at 26-6.
South No. 1 Irvine Valley College def South No. 3 College of the Canyons 3-2
(25-19, 13-25, 28-26, 23-25, 16-14)
Irvine Valley held off a hard charging Canyons squad to avoid a monumental upset and book a spot in the CCCAA state tournament final against San Joaquin Delta.
Burns closed out a terrific career for the Cougars with 18 kills, while Shayla Johnson and Caroline Page chipped in 15 and 14 kills respectively. Setter Rachel Perez, who finished the season second in the state in assists per set, dished out 48 assists, and libero Demi Dawson tallied 28 digs and seven aces. The Cougars finish the season at 25-6.
The two headed monster of Olivia Aguilar (26) and Taira Ka'awaloa (25) combined for 51 kills as the Lasers reached the final for the first time since 2014 when the program won its first championship in school history.
Aguilar and Ka'awaloa both posted double-doubles as they tallied 18 and 12 digs respectively. Megan Ramseyer handed out 53 assists and Gabi Lau led the defense with 27 digs.
"Although it hurts to come up two points short of the finals, I am a better coach and a better man because this group of young women allowed me to be a part of their magical season," Timmons continued. "There is no possible way I could be more proud of them."
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 courtesy of CCCAA