The red-hot College of the Canyons women’s volleyball (17-7, 11-0) won its 12th straight match on Wednesday in a home conference win over the West L.A. Wildcats (11-10, 6-4)
Canyons was led by sophomore Ally Grodell, who sent down 14 kills along with three blocks.
The Cougars got off to a slow start, going back and forth with the scrappy Wildcat team.
West L.A. managed to build a solid lead thanks to a 6-0 run racked up by mostly COC errors. The Cougars would dig their own 12-18 hole but showed excellent grit as they climbed out on a 11-2 run.
Canyons’ co-head coach Clay Timmons took the team’s nervousness to start as a positive.
“All in all, I think maybe it’s just gonna be a good thing for us,” said Timmons. “That weird nervousness energy, that’s going to be us in another team’s home gym pretty soon and we’re gonna have to learn how to battle through that kind of stuff.”
Freshman outside hitter Kaelyn White retook the lead with an ace to go up 21-20. The freshman shined on sophomore night with 11 kills.
The Wildcats managed to scrap up a few points and nearly went into extra points. Grodell would erase that momentum with a set-point kill to reach 10 in the first set.
“I think our passes were just on at the start of the match and it worked,” said Grodell. “I didn’t think I had 10 kills.”
COC ran wild through the second set. White and the offense found a real groove and sparked a 13-1 run early in the set.
Wildcats middle blocker Taliyah Davis ended the run with a kill but couldn’t get her team back into the set.
Davis led West L.A. with eight kills and was one of several Wildcats with great blocking nights.
“They were blocking a lot of balls,” said Timmons. “They were digging everything and that didn’t stop in the first. That kind of was the whole match from them. They really had a lot of tenacity and aggressiveness, and you got to give them a lot of credit.”
Canyons would spark early again in the third, even with a handful of new players in. The team is 14 sophomores deep and Timmons believes all of his players can be plugged in and succeed at any time.
“We want it to be seamless,” said Timmons. “It really should be. We have confidence in all of these girls to go out there and do their job based on their respective position.”
The Cougars built up an 8-1 lead but the Wildcats started chipping away thanks to three straight aces from Jennifer Sandoval. West L.A. was able to score but couldn’t get within an arm’s distance of COC.
Sophomore Francisca Figueria would slam down a kill to set up match point. West L.A. returned the ball on the following point but miscommunication would cost the team as the ball hit the floor in the middle of all six players to close out the match.
COC has now won 12 straight matches. The team will look for one more win to close a perfect season in conference play and lift a championship banner.
Setter Jordan Nunez led the Canyons offense with 27 assists. Nunez has options at every position, making the setter’s job easier.
“I love it because I can trust everyone on my team,” said Nunez. “I feel like even if I’m having a bad day, I know they got me and it’s not all on me.”
One of Nunez’s favorite hitters is outside hitter Brianna Botello, who finished with six kills and two blocks on Wednesday. Botello feels the team’s preparations have been the biggest reason for the huge win streak.
“I feel like it’s just more of our game plans and being able to construct an effective one,” said Botello. “Then making sure we’re going over it repeatedly so that we know going into the game what we need to do every time. So, I feel like that’s one of the biggest keys to why we’ve been winning.”
Camaraderie has also been a theme on this Cougar team with every player feeling in sync with one another on and off the court.
“I feel like there’s no one who doesn’t get along like we’re all just really like a COC Cougar family,” said Grodell. “We were doing some mushy, emotional stuff too before the game to help bond us.”
Regardless of wins or losses, the team is always laughing. They’ve just happened to be doing a little more winning this season.
“We have so many different characters in the team,” said Botello. “It’s always so good to have different characters come together and just have one mission. We’re always laughing.”
Canyons has the chance to clinch its first perfect WSC season since 2015 on Friday when the team closes out its regular season at Antelope Valley at 6 p.m.