College of the Canyons volleyball swept Glendale Community College in its season opener at the Cougar Cage on Wednesday, but the final score wasn’t indicative of how much the Cougars had to battle to get the win.
In the middle of the second set, Canyons found itself in a bind. The Cougars were staring down a tie after easily winning the first set, 25-16.
COC quickly called a timeout and Toni Bito gave her team a one-point lead with a kill, but the Vaqueros momentum didn’t slow as they recovered and charged ahead to a 21-19 advantage.
“They were so good at playing defense today,” Bito, a Valencia volleyball alumna said. “They were getting a lot of balls up, especially and they were working super hard and definitely the defense, they were working hard.”
Canyons’ Madison Martinez was able to tie the set once again with a kill to make it 21-21, then the Cougars added another point on an ace. COC didn’t allow another Glendale point as Georgia Sherman drilled a kill from the back row, then Saugus volleyball product Grace Ferguson sealed the 25-21 win with back-to-back kills.
“She’s been working really hard on her offense, so if we can get a nice pass and give her the ball when she’s ready for it, up and fast and ready for it, I think she’s going to have a good season,” said coach Clay Timmons of Ferguson.
Ferguson, a freshman, also teamed up with Martinez for several key blocks, one of which gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead to start the third set. The former Centurion ended the night with eight blocks and eight kills.
“It’s definitely really fun. I love blocking with her,” Ferguson said. “I always tell her in practice that she sets up a great block. But yeah, I think it was really good and I’ve known her for a while, so that helps, too.”
COC cruised to a 25-12 win in the third set, earning the team a sweep that will provide some confidence for a roster that features nine freshmen and three sophomores.
Bito, who paced Canyons with 11 kills, is one of the players providing a veteran presence after going to the CCCAA State Championship Semifinals last season.
“I think like today was a good thing for us,” Bito said. “I think like, going in from summer transitioning into the season we worked very hard, especially in the weightroom and just to see all of us work together really hard and all of us contribute to the team, I think that was really good for tonight.”
COC next hosts Santa Monica on Friday.