COC Insider: Canyons volleyball’s Grace Ferguson leading the way behind strong defensive play

Freshman middle blocker Grace Ferguson led the state in hitting percentage and total blocks. Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information

By Jesse Muñoz
For The Signal

To say Grace Ferguson is having an impact on the Cougars’ success this season would be an understatement.

Whether it be from behind the line or around the net, Ferguson has been a force that other teams must contend with throughout the season.

Now, those efforts have started to accumulate, as Ferguson entered Wednesday night’s showdown with Bakersfield College at or near the top of the state in several key statistical areas.

At the start of play on Wednesday, the six-foot-two-inch freshman middle blocker was ranked first in the state in total blocks (93), block assists (71) and blocks per set (1.45). Her 22 solo blocks were also No. 2 in the conference. Ferguson was also No. 2 in the state and tops in the WSC in hitting percentage (.493), while her 40 aces were the conference’s number two mark.

Those totals were only aided by Ferguson’s strong performance vs. No. 3 Bakersfield College on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, Ferguson was named the California Community College Women’s Volleyball Coaches Association (CCCWVCA) State Player of the Week for the Southern California Region.

That honor came after Ferguson totaled nine kills on 11 attempts, served up seven aces and collected five blocks in COC’s 3-0 win over Mt. San Antonio College the previous Wednesday. Ferguson also racked up eight kills, four aces and two blocks to help Canyons down L.A. Mission College last Friday.

Numbers like that should place Ferguson, who attended Saugus High School, in the conversation for WSC, South Division Player of the Year at season’s end. But much of that will depend on how Canyons is able to close out its conference schedule.

COC has six games remaining on its schedule, including a key road matchup vs. Bakersfield on the last day of the regular season that could have major implications on both the conference standings and potential playoff brackets.

Up next, COC will travel to Moorpark College for a non-conference match at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Men’s Soccer Begins Conference Schedule 3-0

The Cougars currently sit atop the Western State Conference (WSC), South Division standings after winning three straight games to begin the conference portion of its schedule.

Canyons (6-4-2, 3-0) has won four of its last five matches, while also matching the best conference start in program history. Until this season, COC had not won its WSC opener.

The Cougars also seem to have found their offensive rhythm at just the right time. Perhaps sparked by a five-goal output vs. Allan Hancock on Oct. 2, COC has outscored opponents 7-1 during the recent three-game streak. That effort has resulted in wins over Citrus, Glendale and, most recently, Victor Valley College on Tuesday.

In that match, COC was able to strike first with a goal off the foot of freshman midfielder Joshua Roque, which came by way of an assist from Cesar Dominguez in the 25th minute.

The early lead held true through the first half and the majority of the second before Victor Valley tied the game 1-1 with under 20 minutes to play.

Canyons quickly responded, however, and exploded for three scores in the span of seven minutes to close things out.

Tyler Jovel put COC ahead 2-1 after a nice touch from Dominguez in the 80th minute, then found the back of the net for a second score in the 84th minute, assisted by Jose Chavez.

Jorge Rojas finished off the attack with a free kick score in the 87th minute that made it a 4-1 final score.

COC is back on the pitch 4 p.m. Friday at Antelope Valley College.

Cougar Golfers Run Unbeaten Streak to Eight

Canyons has won every regular season event it has played in, stretching its unbeaten streak to eight after a first-place finish at Monday’s Western State Conference (WSC) tournament at Antelope Valley Country Club.

COC topped runner up Santa Barbara City College by 27 strokes as freshman Haruka Koda earned medalist honors with a round of 75.

Canyons and SBCC have finished 1-2 in all six conference events this season. Koda, who leads the WSC individual standings by 19 strokes over teammate Jessie Lin, has now won four WSC events on the year, including two of the last three. She also finished runner up at the WSC event hosted by COC at Elkin’s Ranch on Oct. 8.

On Monday, Gina Chung carded a round of 83 to finish fourth overall in the field. Lin was next with an 84 and sophomore Joanna Roecker added her score of 86. COC ended the day with a four-player score of 328. Second place SBCC (355) was followed by Moorpark College (397) in third.

Canyons will next play at Simi Hills Golf Course on Oct. 22, before teeing off in the WSC Finals Oct. 28-29 at Alisal River Golf Course in Solvang.

Cougar Football Invites Youth Football & Cheer Programs to Home Opener

Cougar football is inviting all Santa Clarita Valley youth football & cheer teams — Santa Clarita Cowboys, Grizzlies, Spartans, Vikings, Warriors, Wildcats and other parks and recreation programs etc. — to attend Saturday’s game free of charge (with jersey/uniform).

Canyons (6-0, 1-0) will host East L.A. College (3-3, 1-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cougar Stadium.

The Cougars are coming off a 36-3 victory over host Moorpark College in week six that saw Canyons extend its win streak to 11 games dating back to the 2017 season.

The Huskies picked up a 20-13 home win vs. Long Beach City College last Saturday.

The Cougars will enter the contest as the No. 1 ranked team in the state according to the most recent JC Athletic Bureau Head Coaches Poll. Canyons is also ranked No. 2 in the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) Poll.

COC boasts the top ranked defense in the state having held opponents to an average of just seven points a game. The Cougars are allowing opponents just 227.7 yards of offense per game, good for the state’s second-best mark.

General admission tickets to all Cougar football games are $10. Kids 10 and under are free.

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