Exorcizing ghosts is part of program development. The VC volleyball team did just that Friday. One season after falling twice to Canyons in five sets, the second time in the Regional Finals after holding a 2-0 lead, the Pirates defeated the Cougars 22-25, 25-14, 25-15, 25-18 in Santa Clarita. Nevada Knowles had complete vision on the task at hand with a 20-20 performance, 23 kills, hitting .528, while handing out 27 assists. Kayla Murdoch recorded 20 winners and Amelie Zubia also dished out 27 helpers as Ventura moved to 10-0 on the season.
In the opening set, Canyons held slim advantages early before a winner from Katey Mulville gave the Pirates their first lead, 8-7. The teams were tied at 9-9 when Kylie Ibbotson had a kill for the first of three straight VC points. Ventura led 14-11 on a kill from Knowles before CoC went on a 7-0 run to take an 18-14 lead. The Pirates were able to come back and square the count at 22, but Canyons scored the last three points to claim the first set. It was just the third set the Pirates had dropped all season.
The second set remained tight early. The teams traded points and the score was knotted at 10 before the Pirates took control. Following a Canyons service error, Zubia served three straight VC points, including an ace and a block by Murdoch. Jocelyn Montoya and Knowles continued the Pirate run at serve as VC outscored the Cougars 15-4 to take the set and even the match, 25-14.
Ventura established control early in the third set with a pair of kills from Murdoch, an ace by Zubia, and another Murdoch winner for an 8-2 advantage. The Pirates were able to maintain the advantage throughout with winners from Averi Carter and Brianna Morrison, among others. Knowles and Mulville had a block to make it 20-12 for VC as the Pirates took the set 25-15.
VC picked up right where they left off in the fourth set, building a 6-1 early on a Knowles winner and an ace by Zubia. The Cougars rallied to pull to within 9-8 but Murdoch's back-row kill, an ace from Carter and a block by Ibbotson stopped the CoC run. The Cougars stayed around, but Ventura was able to get key points when needed, including a tip by Knowles when the Cougars closed to within 16-14. Ventura scored the final four points of the match to claim the fourth set, 25-18.
Autumn Rojelio Moreno was solid defensively 14 digs to lead VC while Zubia had eight and Knowles, seven. Zubia also ended the match with five services aces and Mulville recorded four blocks.
The Pirates, ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in Southern California, returns home on Wednesday Sept. 21 to host Bakersfield before traveling to Citrus on Friday Sept. 23.