At one point in College of the Canyons volleyball’s match against Bakersfield, Emily Burns was struggling.
For every kill that she successfully executed, it seemed like another was called out of bounds. Burns’ frustration mounted, but fortunately, one of her No. 1 motivators was there to help her out.
“I (knew) Emily was really frustrated and I was just like, ‘Dude, you’re fine.’ You got this,” said COC libero Demi Dawson. “You’re amazing. You’re fine.”
Although the Cougars (20-5, 7-1 in Western State Conference South) dropped the match 3-2 (25-23, 15-16, 22-25, 22-25, 14-16), Dawson was there for Burns, along with setter Rachel Perez, just as they were when the trio started playing volleyball. They progressed through Valencia volleyball together and eventually ended up at Canyons.
However, it took a little work from Dawson to reunite the group.
Burns opted not to play volleyball after high school because she felt burnt out with the sport. Perez decided to focus on schoolwork and enrolled at Cal State Northridge.
Dawson decided to go out for COC’s volleyball team after she realized how much she missed the sport. But, of course, she couldn’t do it on her own.
“I’ve been playing for so long, so I think I just needed a break … so I took one year off club and it kind of like, made me start missing it more but I was still like, I don’t think I should play,” Burns said. “But then Demi was like, no it’s going to be so much fun. Just do it. It’s just two more years.”
Perez was settled at CSUN, but Dawson and Burns persuaded her to come to a Cougars practice. From there, getting her to join the team wasn’t a hard sell.
“I ended up staying because I just missed playing with them so much,” Perez said.
The chemistry built up over years of playing together is a major advantage for the Cougars. Perez knows how to set Burns no matter where she is on the court and Dawson keeps her counterparts energized while making key digs. The three former Vikings also communicate with ease.
“I’ve seen Burns go to (Rachel) and say ‘Hey,’ and Rachel is like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ (Burns is) like ‘Okay, cool,’” said coach Clay Timmons. “They didn’t really say anything, but they figured it out.”
Despite the Bakersfield loss, Canyons clinched a share of the WSC South title.