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

COC’s Grace Ferguson named to All-American and All-State team in Women’s volleyball

The College of the Canyons women’s volleyball team had a season filled with ebbs and flows, as the Cougars were able to defeat some of the top teams in the state, but also lost some close matches that came down to the final set.

While the season didn’t end as the Cougars hoped, losing in five sets in the opening round of the playoffs against San Diego Mesa College, Canyons had six players earn Western State Conference (WSC) South Division honors, including freshman middle blocker Grace Ferguson.

Ferguson was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American Third Team and also to the 2018 All-State Team and All-WSC First Team.

Her .466 hitting percentage and 125 total blocks led the state. She ranked No. 2 in the WSC with 57 service aces, which was good for the No. 14 spot in California.

“My personal goal was just to be the best that I can be on the court and off the court,” Ferguson said, “but I think throughout this season, it definitely was one of my goals to be one of the top middles of the state and I think I definitely reached that goal.”

Joining Ferguson on the All-WSC First Team is freshman libero Elizabeth Gannon, who finished the regular season with 64 aces and 424 digs, both of which led the conference.

Sophomore outside hitter Shayla Johnson and freshman Sydney Higginson were both named to the All-WSC Second Team.

Freshman outside hitter Madison Martinez and sophomore middle blocker Toni Bito were named to the Honorable Mention list.

The Cougars boasted a young squad which included just three sophomores, something that Ferguson believes hindered their abilities on the court at times.

She said it wasn’t as much about the lack of experience, but more about the challenges of coming together as a cohesive unit when so many players had never played with one another before this season.

“I think it was a little tough because we only had three sophomores and I think they do their role as sophomores for us, but with so many freshmen on the court, I think it’s difficult to have that click as a team,” said the 6-foot-2 Saugus graduate. “But I think we did a decent job of coming together, but I think we definitely had our struggles with it.”

The way the season ended left a bitter taste in the Cougars’ mouths, but they are using that loss as motivation to come out even stronger next season.

Ferguson, for one, said she is going to keep on practicing on grinding so she can help her team make a deep playoff run next season.

“We all really wanted to make it far, but I think everything happens for a reason and we definitely learned a lot from that game,” Ferguson said about the season-ending playoff loss. “But I think for next season we’re definitely going to be hungry for more and want to make up for what we didn’t achieve for this season.”

Haley Sawyer contributed to this report.

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