College of the Canyons volleyball pulled together and handed Glendale Community College its second league loss of the year on Wednesday after facing adversity early.
The Cougars won in straight sets, 25-17, 25-12, 25-23, to complete the sweep in the Western State Conference, South Division match and earn their fourth consecutive victory and third sweep in as many matches.
Down 2-1 in the first set, Canyons sophomore Madison Martinez attempted to hit a ball, but got tangled up with a teammate and suffered an apparent ankle injury. There was a brief pause in the action as Martinez was escorted off the court by her teammates. Martinez would rejoin the team, but never re-enter the match.
Glendale capitalized on the injury and jumped ahead of the Cougars taking a 6-1 lead, but kills by Canyons’ Kayla Tait, Grace Ferguson and Sydney Higginson and an ace by Caitlin Lim rallied the Cougars (8-6 overall, 3-1 WSC, South) to get within a point and forced a Glendale timeout.
Ferguson led the Cougars in kills with nine and Tait added eight. Higginson had 24 assists.
Kyra Titner and Ricki Patenaude delivered crucial blocks up front giving the Cougars a spark to allow Canyons some breathing room.
Canyons sealed the first set with kills by Tait and Ferguson to win by eight points.
“That was a really tough way to start the match, especially against a Glendale team that’s always coached so greatly by Yvette (Ybarra) and her staff,” said College of the Canyons head coach Clay Timmons.
“We always know playing Glendale that they don’t let balls drop, they work harder than anybody on defense and Madison goes down and we were shaken a little bit, but I was proud of the way that they shook it off and refocused their brains and started putting some points together.”
The Cougars carried the momentum from the first set win over, beginning the second set with five straight points as Higginson delivered three of the team’s 16 total aces on the night.
Freshmen Tyler Dobrowsky and Maxine Osunsanmi came off the bench and joined in on the Cougars’ frenzy with kills of their own, forcing Glendale (5-9, 2-3) to call a timeout down 11-2.
It was all Canyons the rest of the way as the team played collectively sound, fundamental team volleyball, while the Vaqueros had unforced error after unforced error.
Glendale never got within eight points of the Cougars and fell by 13 points.
“I think that was the cleanest we played all night so we were serving really tough and getting aces or pushing them out of system,” Timmons said. “We were seeing a lot of free balls and roll shots and it simplified what they were going to do against us a little bit more. We were in spots that we were supposed to be and executed defensively and put the ball right on top of Sydney’s head so she can dish, so that’s a little closer to how we want to play.”
Down two sets to none, Glendale began the third set with a renewed intensity and showed it with their play throughout the set, while Canyons inserted some of its younger players into the mix.
Going point-for-point, Canyons tied the game at 8-8 and retook the lead with a kill by freshman Bree Kelley.
Glendale tied the game at 14-14 and took a 17-16 lead after a Canyons hitting error and Timmons took a timeout to calm the players down.
A couple points later, freshman Kiana Perry was inserted and immediately delivered, serving up back-to-back aces to put the Cougars ahead 19-18.
The Vaqueros took a brief 22-21 lead after three straight points and earned another Cougars timeout in the process.
Out of the game’s final timeout, another freshman delivered the final blows as Osunsanmi scored three of the match’s final four points with two kills and a block to seal the Canyons win.
“We knew we wanted to try and get as many personnel in tonight as possible in that third set. It was a little shaky with some of the freshmen coming in, but that’s one of the best matches that Maxine has played as far as not committing many errors at all,” Timmons said of the freshman in the third set. “She was either getting a kill or keeping it in for us with a couple blocks. She is starting to really understand the game plan and how to execute it.”
Osunsanmi finished the night with six kills and Elizabeth Gannon had nine digs.
Canyon continues WSC, South play with a match against Citrus at The Master’s University at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“We have to stay healthy for one, but just take it practice by practice and match by match,” Timmons said. “We have Citrus and Santa Monica and then a big one against Bakersfield, so hopefully we’re as healthy as possible and dialed in gameplan wise and be ready to execute.”