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No. 15 seed College of the Canyons defeated No. 18 Mt. San Jacinto by a 3-2 (25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-8) final score in a play-in postseason match. The Cougars will next travel to face No. 2 Pasadena City College (23-1, 18-0) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23. — Mari Kneisel/COC Sports Information
No. 15 seed College of the Canyons defeated No. 18 Mt. San Jacinto by a 3-2 (25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-8) final score in a play-in postseason match. The Cougars will next travel to face No. 2 Pasadena City College (23-1, 18-0) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23. — Mari Kneisel/COC Sports Information

No. 15 Cougars Advance to Regional Bracket with 3-2 Win Over No. 18 Mt. JAC

By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director 

No. 15 seed College of the Canyons emerged from an intense back-and-forth match over No. 18 Mt. San Jacinto College (JAC) with a 3-2 victory in the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs Play-In game on Saturday at the Cougar Cage. Set scores were 25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-8.

Canyons (14-10, 10-2) has developed a recent knack for going the distance, having now won back-to-back five-set matches vs. No. 16 state ranked Ventura and Mt. JAC. COC also won a five-set match vs. Grossmont College back in September.

Sophomore Caitlin Liebe slammed down 18 kills and hit .444 on the evening to go with three assisted blocks. That total equaled her season-high. Liebe, who was announced as one of the Cougars' six All-Western State Conference (WSC) selections, also added three block assists.

Liebe's final swing in the fifth set ended the match and brought the Cougars onto the floor in celebration.

Freshman Ariana Vargas stepped up in a big way on Saturday, doubling her previous season-high kill total with 16 and hitting .560. Vargas' night also included five digs and a block.

Damani Harvey was the only other Cougar with a double-digit kill total, finishing with 13 in the match. Harvey was an All-WSC Second Team selection for COC this season.

Indiah Lewis recorded five kills from the middle with Breanna Kelley adding three more at the net. Lewis added seven digs, four block assists and a solo block to help the Cougars' effort. Kelly was named an All-WSC Honorable Selection. 

Mt. JAC (17-6, 10-0) jumped all over Canyons in the second set to briefly seize the momentum back. The Eagles played a sluggish third set before erupting for a 25-23 win in the next frame and sending the match to a fifth.

Aleya Starnes gave it her all with a game-high 21 kills, a block and three block assists. Ruby Ruiz was next with 15 kills and 10 digs.

The Eagles hit .169 on the night with 27 errors. Canyons totaled a .319 mark with 19 errors.

All-WSC setter Abby Sherman ended with 39 assists, four aces and six digs. Rhiannon Boddy, who earned All-WSC Second Team honors, finished with nine assists, an ace and a team-high 10 digs. Jacqueline Ibarra, also an Honorable Mention selection, was one of three Cougars with two kills.

Canyons now officially moves into the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoff bracket. The Cougars next face No. 2 seed Pasadena City College (23-1, 18-0) on the road at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Full brackets for both regions are included here.

The Lancers ended the regular season as the No. 3 ranked team in the state. Canyons slotted in the No. 25 spot, tied with Solano and Saddleback College. 

General admission tickets to Tuesday's postseason game vs. Pasadena City College are $12 (cash only). Students, faculty and staff (with ID) from both schools, seniors over age 60 and children under 12 are $8.

Additionally, all spectators must complete the PCC health survey attesting they are vaccinated in order to enter campus buildings. Visitors can access the survey ahead of the event by visiting www.Pasadena.edu or by scanning the QR code posted at the venue. 

Fans must present the green check-mark approval from the PCC health survey in order to enter the venue. Masks are required to be worn at all times with spectators asked to remain in bleachers/seating area during the event.

Spectators may not engage with coaches, athletes, officials or game day personnel until after the event and all groups have left the facility. Individuals who refuse to comply with all protocols will be asked to leave the facility. 

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.  

—Photo by Mari Kneisel/COC Sports Information