College of the Canyons volleyball has had a tough preseason schedule. Since the beginning of September, the Cougars have played in three different tournaments and have faced four different teams with a No. 10 ranking or higher in the most recent CCCWVCA state rankings.
It was so tough that coach Clay Timmons felt the need to apologize to his team.
“I probably went a little too aggressive with it in hindsight,” he said. “Not just playing two matches in a day for three weekends in a row, but the quality of teams that we played were pretty high level too.”
The top-notch slate has paid off for Canyons, especially in matches like the sweep of Santa Barbara at COC on Wednesday.
“It definitely prepares us mentally and physically because it’s exhausting playing two matches in a row in a tournament,” said libero Elizabeth Gannon. “So when we get to the single matches, its way easier to … get this match done and get every single point.”
Although the Vaqueros (2-6) scored first in the first set, COC (7-5 overall) went on a six-point scoring streak immediately after.
Santa Barbara gained slight momentum mid-set with two kills from Grace Trocki and an ace from Kenzie Garrison, but were unable to complete a comeback as Canyons took a 25-14 win when the net stopped a Vaquero hit short.
Accurate serving played a major role in the Cougars’ 25-11 win in the second set, as four of the team’s 10 aces occurred in the frame.
“I feel like it as one of our best serving games yet,” said Grace Ferguson, who logged three aces in the match. “I feel like we were all confident standing at the line and it really showed.”
While the second set showed consistency from the service line, the third showed consistency on offense. Back-to-back kills from Ricki Patenaude and Ciera McGuinness gave COC a 21-12 advantage. A kill from Shayla Johnson sealed the sweep at 25-16.
“Shayla did a great job tonight,” Gannon said. “She was all over the place in the back row and she’s putting balls away for us in the front row, so I think overall she did a great job.”
Players like Johnson (15 kills) are benefitting from quality setting and defense from teammates. McGuinness logged 15 assists and Sydney Higginson had 10. Gannon chipped in three along with 10 digs.
“We’re putting a lot of responsibility on being able to deliver a very specific ball and be able to run different plays and stuff like that,” Timmons said. “So we’ve been practicing that and we were really happy with the setters tonight.”
The Cougars next play LA Pierce on Friday at home at 6 p.m.