Canyon volleyball beats Glendale in season opener

The Cowboys celebrate winning their season opener against Glendale at Canyon High School. Sasha Thomas-Oakley was named one of the five most memorable female athletes of the year. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

Canyon volleyball’s Juliana Ascencio has a pretty solid serve. But in Wednesday night’s game against Glendale, she wasn’t used to them being this good.

Midway through the fourth game, the Cowboys found themselves tied with the Nitros. Then, Ascencio rattled off four consecutive aces to take a four-point lead that set up a win for the game and sealed the match 3-1.

“Usually my serves are pretty good, but they’re never that accurate,” said the libero. “I think I was just in the moment, excited in my first game as a senior … so I’m just excited.”

Canyon’s serving wasn’t flawless the entire evening, though. The Cowboys (1-0) struggled in the first game, a result of a lack of full-team practices during preseason due to summer college courses.

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A lead seemed to be perpetually within one or two points for the Cowboys, but Glendale (1-2) escaped with a 25-23 win.

The Cowboys got back on track in Game 2, jumping out to an early 7-2 lead on a six-point scoring run. A handful of errors allowed the Nitros to sneak up on a lead, but Canyon cleaned up its game and won  25-17 on a Kyra Titner ace.

“First set we missed a lot of serves,” outside hitter Sasha Thomas-Oakley said, “and serve is the most important. I think we missed more than seven serves, which is way too many and then after that we cleaned it up and we were able to get the win.”

Canyon Senior Sasha Thomas Oakley goes up for the kill to put the match away for the Cowboys in their season opener against Glendale at Canyon High School on Wednesday. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

Canyon was able to replicate its success in Game 3, despite allowing a six-point offensive burst from Glendale, winning 25-18.

The Nitros scored first in the fourth game, but the Cowboys quickly recovered and took advantage of some Glendale errors to get ahead. Glendale stole the lead back on a block, but a tip from Ariana Vargas tied it at 12-all.

Ascencio then drilled four aces for a 16-12 lead and Canyon never looked back. Thomas-Oakley sealed the 25-17 win with a kill.

“We knew that if we served tough we’d pull out another win and it was really cool that she went back and got those aces for us, got the energy going in the crowd and in us and helped us,” said Thomas-Oakley.

As they look ahead to their next match at Highland on Friday, the Cowboys are focused on communication and finding the right mix of players to create perfect chemistry.

“We communicate more, we talk more,” said coach Robert Treahy. “And basically talking is going to help accountability. As soon as you say something, we’re going to react and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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