By Brandon Johnson/COC Sports Information
College of the Canyons hosted Irvine Valley College at the Cougar Cage on Wednesday, with the defending state champions winning a tough opening set before eventually rolling to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-15) early season victory over the Cougars.
Canyons (2-1) was led by sophomore outside hitter Shayla Johnson who collected five kills and 13 digs, while freshman libero Elizabeth Gannon chipped in 20 digs. Freshman middle blocker Grace Ferguson tallied a match high six block assists.
"We came into the night with what we thought was a solid game plan [and] it turns out we were correct in what we had drawn up," said COC third year head coach Clay Timmons. "However, our execution was subpar, putting it lightly."
The Cougars committed 26 hitting and serving errors for the match.
Set one was a dog fight from the beginning, with neither team finding any separation throughout. Johnson collected back-to-back kills to start the match, the first of which ended a long rally that set the tone for the rest of the set.
Three in a row for the Cougars finally brought the smallest bit of separation at 18-16, forcing an initial timeout from IVC head coach Tom Pestolesi. The timeout worked as the Lasers rattled off the next three points, prompting a timeout from the Cougars.
The Cougars were only able to stop the momentum briefly before IVC's Alyssa Vortouni ripped an ace to open a 22-20 lead for the Lasers. Kylie Miller closed out the first set with a quick kill down the middle, giving the Lasers a 1-0 lead in the match.
Vortouni continued her strong play as she fired an ace to give the Lasers an early 6-4 lead in set two. The Lasers continued to hum as they opened up a 15-10 advantage, forcing a first timeout from the Cougars. IVC continued its strong, balanced play as the Lasers rolled to a dominating 25-13 second set win.
Strong blocking from the Cougars kept the third set close early. Ferguson twice shut down the Lasers' attack to give COC an early 7-6 lead. It was the Cougars' only lead of the set as IVC continued to roll, eventually sending the Cougars to their first loss of the young season.
"It was a fantastic learning experience," Timmons said. "It seems to have been something that needed to happen to learn a bit more about ourselves."
Canyons will next compete at the San Diego Mesa Invitational Sept. 7-8. The Cougars then return home Wednesday, Sept. 12 to host Long Beach City College.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
—Photo by Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information