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No. 17 Canyons Sweeps Past Santa Barbara

College of the Canyons sophomore Shayla Johnson recorded 15 kills and 16 digs to help lead the Lady Cougars to a 3-0 sweep over Santa Barbara City College on Wednesday night in the Cougar Cage. Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director.
College of the Canyons sophomore Shayla Johnson recorded 15 kills and 16 digs to help lead the Lady Cougars to a 3-0 sweep over Santa Barbara City College on Wednesday night in the Cougar Cage. Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director.

By Brandon Johnson/COC Sports Information

Behind strong serving, and a tremendous all-around effort from sophomore outside hitter Shayla Johnson, College of the Canyons rolled to an easy 3-0 sweep over visiting Santa Barbara City College on Wednesday night in the Cougar Cage. Set scores were 25-14, 25-11, 25-16.

Johnson recorded 15 kills and 16 digs while hitting .609 for the match. Freshman libero Elisabeth Gannon chipped in 10 digs and three aces.

The Cougars (7-5), ranked No. 17 in the most recent California Community College Women's Volleyball Coaches Association (CCCWVCA) state poll, have endured a grueling preseason schedule, and have struggled to find consistency throughout their matches.

"Consistency is something that we obviously talk about a lot," Timmons added. "Our focus as a squad and program is to understand the importance of consistency and striving to make the things that we can control more automatic and positive."

For the match, the Cougars committed just two hitting errors, and fired 10 aces compared to just five serving errors.

"We were pleasantly surprised with how efficient we were tonight," Timmons continued. "I think a lot of what you saw tonight came from a real enjoyment of playing the game and playing together, something we talked about a lot coming into this week."

Set one saw the Cougars jump out to a quick lead behind back-to-back kills from Johnson. After that, it was all about tough serving, as Sydney Higginson's serve found the back line, giving the Cougars a 16-10 lead and forcing a timeout from Santa Barbara.

The tough serving continued as Grace Ferguson fired an ace, the team's fourth of the set, and the lead swelled to 22-12. It was a lead that would never be threatened as the Cougars rolled to an easy first set win.

Set two was much of the same for the Cougars as strong serving from Gannon and Higginson gave Canyons an early 6-2 lead. From there, it was all about strong play from the Cougars' middle blockers Ferguson and Toni Bito. They crushed back-to-back to kills and Ferguson fired an ace as the Cougars opened up a commanding 15-5 lead. Another Bito kill put an exclamation point on a strong set for the Cougars as they won 25-11. Canyons recorded five aces in the set.

The Cougars were in control of set three from the beginning as the visiting Vaqueros racked up a number of attacking errors. Ferguson and Ricki Patenaude combined on back-to-back blocks to give the home team a 17-10 lead. At the end of the set, the Cougars ran out of substitutions, forcing Johnson to move to the middle blocker position. She responded with a block and the match-ending kill.

"[Johnson] has been working really hard in the weight room and on the floor," Timmons said. "She is a sophomore leader this year and I think tonight you saw a little bit of all that hard work kind of coming together."

The Cougars return to action Friday, Sept. 28 when they host L.A. Pierce College. First serve is set for 6 p.m.

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. 

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