By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
College of the Canyons is headed back to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship tournament for a second straight year, and the fifth time in program history, after upsetting No. 2 Irvine Valley College 3-1 on Saturday. Set scores were 25-17, 25-22, 15-25, 28-26.
COC sophomore Aly Grodell came away with a blocked shot to claim the final point in the fourth set and bring the Cougars out onto the court in celebration. The All-American and conference Player of the Year finished the game with five kills and four total blocks, none bigger than her last.
Canyons freshman Kaelyn White continued her impressive string of matches with 16 kills on a .394 hitting percentage to go with an ace and block assist. White has now reached double-digit kill totals in seven of the last nine matches, including five straight. The 16 kills vs. Irvine Valley was the most during that span.
Jordan Nunez was everywhere for the Cougars, finishing the match with nine kills, 24 assists, two aces, three block assists and three digs to help Canyons to victory.
COC sophomores Jacqueline Ibarra at nine kills and Brianna Botello at six were also a major part of the Cougars’ attack. Sabrina Sveiven led Canyons with 12 digs and Abby Sherman was next with 11 to go with an ace.
The victory by COC snapped an 11-game win streak for the Lasers while moving the Cougars’ win total to 20.
Irvine Valley quickly fell behind 2-0 in the match before rallying for a decisive win in the third set. However, the Lasers hit just .167 for the match. Jayli Nealy led the way with 12 kills and Avery Bennett was next with seven.
This is the second time in program history that Canyons has defeated Irvine Valley to advance to the state tourney. In 2007, Canyons stunned No. 1 state ranked IVC in the second round of the Southern California Regionals to advance to the CCCAA state championships for the first time in program history.
The trip to the state tourney is the third under co-head coach Lisa Hooper (2007, 2015, 2022) and the third for co-head coach Clay Timmons (2017, 2021, 2022). Timmons was also an assistant coach for the 2015 squad that played, and hosted, the state tourney in 2015. Hooper and Timmons shared Western State Conference, South Division Coach of the Year honors in 2022.
Brianna Botello — 4 SP, 6 K, BA
Aly Grodell — 4 SP, 5 K, BS, 3 BA, 4 digs
Jacqueline Ibarra — 3 SP, 9 K
Jordan Nunez — 4 SP, 9 K, 24 A, 2 SA, 3 BA, 3 digs
Sabrina Sveiven — 4 SP, K, 12 digs
Kaelyn White — 4 SP, 16 K, SA, BA, 5 digs, .394
Canyons will advance to the CCCAA Women’s Volleyball State Championship tournament for the fifth team in program history (2007, 2015, 2017, 2021, 2022).
The Cougars are the No. 4 seed in the south region and are slated to face the No. 1 seed from the north region in San Joaquin Delta College (25-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 in the tourney’s opening round.
A full state championship tournament bracket is here.
Delta knocked off No. 16 De Anza College (13-13) and No. 8 Hartnell College (21-11) en route to its state tournament berth. The Mustangs had won 14 straight before dropping its regular season finale at American River College (23-4).
SJDC is making its first appearance at the state championships since advancing all the way to the title game in 2017, a 3-1 loss to state champions Irvine Valley College.
No. 1 north seed Delta is joined by No. 2 Feather River (33-1), No. 3 American River (23-4) and No. 4 San Mateo (22-3) in the Northern region.
No. 4 Canyons returns to the state tourney for a second straight year and will be joined by No. 3 Grossmont (23-3), No. 2 Orange Coast (21-5) and No. 1 Moorpark College (17-4) from the Southern region.
The Cougars are joined by Grossmont, American River and Feather River College in playing at the state tourney in back-to-back years.
COC previously defeated Grossmont by a 3-1 (23-25, 25-10, 25-18, 25-15) result at the annual El Camino College Tri held Sept. 2. Canyons also lost a 3-0 (27-25, 25-15, 25-22) road result at Moorpark on Sept. 21.
Following the loss at Moorpark, the Cougars went on to win 13 straight including an undefeated run through the Western State Conference, South Division schedule.
In 2021, No. 4 COC lost to No. 1 Feather River by a 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-18) final score to see its Cinderella run through the postseason come to an end. The Cougars started the 2021 campaign 2-8 before winning 14 of its next 16 to advance to the state tourney.
Stay up to date on all this season’s action by visiting the College of the Canyons Athletic department and following on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.