In a battle of two top-10 teams in the state, it was visiting Bakersfield College that rallied from a two set deficit to stun host No. 3 College of the Canyons on Wednesday night in the Cougar Cage. Set Scores were 23-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 16-14 in favor of No. 6 ranked Renegades.
Emily Burns led the Cougars' offense with 20 kills while Shayla Johnson and Caroline Page chipped in 19 and 13 kills, respectively. However, the Cougars committed 36 hitting errors in the match, adding up to .169 hitting percentage.
The Cougars had already clinched at least a share of the Western State Conference, South Division championship prior to taking the floor.
The first set laid the framework for what would be an epic battle all night. A long rally that featured diving digs from Dawson and Perez was finally ended by Burns and the point gave the Cougars a 21-19 lead. Although the Renegades were able to tie the score at 21, Johnson collected two late kills to give the Cougars a 25-23 set victory.
Set two saw Bakersfield jump out to an early 10-7 lead behind strong blocking and an ace from Sarah Armendariz. The Cougars were able to rally and the set remained close until Johnson stepped back to serve at 16-16. She collected three aces and Page tallied three kills as Canyons closed on a 10-0 run to end the set.
However, Bakersfield was not going to go down without a fight, jumping out to an early 4-1 lead in set three. After the Cougars rallied to tie the score at four, neither team was able to gain even a two point lead until COC fired back-to-back errors, opening up a 14-12 lead for the Renegades and forcing a timeout from the Cougars. Bakersfield opened its biggest lead at 23-19, and although the Cougars rallied, Armendariz had two late kills to close out the set 25-22 in favor of the Renegades.
Set four once again started off as a battle until the Cougars opened up a 18-14 lead on a kill from Page through the block, prompting a timeout from the Renegades. The timeout paid instant dividends as Bakersfield ran off a 6-0 run to take the lead right back. The run reached 9-1 before the Cougars rallied to trim the lead to one at 23-22. The rally would not be enough, as a misconnection from the Cougars gave the set to Bakersfield and sent the match to the ending it deserved — a fifth set.
Two early hitting errors for the Cougars gave Bakersfield an early 3-1 advantage. But after Dawson stepped back to serve and fired two aces, the Cougars took their own two point lead. The set remained close until Page fired an ace, giving COC a 12-10 lead. The turning point of the set happened with the Cougars holding a 13-11 lead when Burns crushed a cross-court shot that appeared to clip the line but was ruled out. Timmons called a timeout but the momentum was now firmly in the hands of the Renegades. Armendariz fired a kill to bring a match point to Bakersfield, forcing the Cougars to call their final timeout. Burns silenced the momentum momentarily, but a missed serve and an additional hitting error finished off the Renegades' comeback bid.
Alex Paris led the Bakersfield offense with 16 kills while Armendariz collected a triple-double with 12 kills, 19 assists, and 11 digs. Haley Sanchez paced the Bakersfield defense with 23 digs. Bakersfield improved to 18-5 and 6-1 in conference competition.
The Renegades can clinch a share of the conference title with a win against West LA. on Friday. A Bakersfield loss would leave Canyons in sole possession of the conference championship.
Canyons will return to the court at 6 p.m. on Friday Nov. 10, vs. L.A. Pierce College, in a non-conference match.
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.
— Brandon Johnson/COC Sports Information
—Photo credit Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information