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No. 3 Canyons hands No. 15 Vaqueros first home loss

Eight Vaqueros made their final home appearance on Sophomore Night. The players are, top row from left, Nikki Fido, Stephanie Keenan, Kaylene Ureno and Kiana Pisula. Second row, from left, is Leilani Crane, Avery Mulvey, Karissa Mertens and Carolyn Andrulis. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Eight Vaqueros made their final home appearance on Sophomore Night. The players are, top row from left, Nikki Fido, Stephanie Keenan, Kaylene Ureno and Kiana Pisula. Second row, from left, is Leilani Crane, Avery Mulvey, Karissa Mertens and Carolyn Andrulis. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Emily Burns had 19 kills and a .366 hitting percentage on Wednesday night, leading No. 3 Canyons to a 3-1 women's volleyball victory over No. 15 SBCC at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 25-15.

The WSC crossover match featured the WSC North co-champion Vaqueros against the WSC South co-champion Cougars. SBCC had its six-match win streak snapped and fell to 21-6. It was the Vaqueros' first loss in 13 home matches this year.

Canyons won for the 14th time in 15 outings to improve to 22-6.

Kaylene Ureno, the WSC North co-Player of the Year, topped the Vaqueros with 14 kills and eight digs. Carolyn Andrulis added eight kills and 13 digs while Karissa Mertens had eight kills and nine digs. Middle blocker McKenzie Garrison contributed seven kills (hitting .400) and six blocks.

Avery Mulvey recorded 24 digs and Kiana Pisula had 35 assists and four kills.

It was Sophomore Night for eight players, who were making their final regular-season appearance at the Sports Pavilion – Ureno, Andrulis, Mertens, Mulvey, Pisula, Nikki Fido, Stephanie Keenan and Leilani Crane.

"We knew coming in that this would be very tough competition and they definitely showed that," said Pisula, a 5-9 sophomore from Sonora, Calif. "We had a plan and when we executed it correctly, we were on our game.

"It's crazy to think could be my last home game. It's a little surreal and it's exciting too."

The Vaqueros need to be seeded in the top eight for the Southern Cal Regional to get a home date in the playoffs. They were ranked No. 9 in So Cal in this week's state poll.

Canyons jumped out to 15-9 leads in each of the first two sets. The Cougars were up 19-12 in the opener, then the Vaqueros went on a 7-1 run capped by a Mertens' push kill and a slam by Garrison, shaving the deficit to a point at 20-19.

The visitors closed with a 5-1 burst and Demi Dawson got the 25th point on an ace serve.

"This was a perfect match to prepare us for the state playoffs," said Vaquero coach Ed Gover. "We needed to play a high-caliber team and it was great practice for both teams. We got to practice trying to stop their 6-foot-2 girl (Burns) who's really good."

Gover said he didn't know where the Vaqueros would be seeded for the Regional. "We could be anywhere from 8 to 13," he stated. "Sophomore Night is a great thing and it's great for the parents. We have outstanding kids. If you look at their GPAs, we had three kids with 4.0 GPAs and several others who were scholar-athlete award winners. They're so talented in the classroom, it's nice to have that caliber of kids."

The Vaqueros held 1-to-4 point leads throughout the third game. Leading 19-18, they closed on a 6-1 run, capped by a backrow kill from Ureno and Garrison's slam of an overpass.

"We executed our game plan in the third set," Gover stated. "Our game plan was very specific and one of the keys was not to hit to their libero. Then we got back in a comfort zone and started hitting to their libero. Every time we did that, Canyons would transition for a point."

The Cougars broke open a 7-7 fourth set with a 10-5 burst that led to a 17-12 lead. Burns ended the win with back-to-back kills.

The seedings meeting is Thursday at L.A. Pierce. The pairings will be announced on Thursday. The Vaqueros will open with a first-round game on Tuesday.