Volleyball falls at Charm City Challenge

The volleyball team huddles up during the Jack Kaiser Classic in Queens, N.Y., Sept. 6-7. Photo courtesy of GoGriffs.com/St. John's Athletics.

By: Matt Duke

This past weekend, the Canisius volleyball team went to Maryland to participate in the Charm City Challenge, and came out winless. 

On Friday afternoon, the Blue and Gold first took on the hosting Loyola Maryland Greyhounds. The Griffs were able to push the match to four sets, they were unable to come out victorious, dropping the match three sets to one. After coming up short, 19-25 in the first set, the Griffs battled back for a 25-20 victory in the second set. After a hard-fought third set, the Griffs found themselves on the wrong end of a 23-25 decision.

 The Greyhounds rounded out the match with a 19-25 victory in set four. Gabrielle Darnaby and Leah Simmons both tallied 14 kills in the match, and Simmons added three blocks to the effort. Hannah Nelson had another big match, notching eight kills and 12 digs. 

Nelson has performed very well on both sides of the ball in the past few weeks, and is a large part of the reason the Griffs defense is looking very good.

“[We’ve really excelled] defensively. Even in our losses, we have some super long rallies. Our last match last week against UNCC, I don’t know I’ve ever experienced a rally quite that long. It was a good minute, and, in volleyball, that’s a lifetime,” head coach Lenika Vazquez explained. “So I think defensively, we’re showing very well.”

Another strong part of the defense has been freshman middle hitter Camille Vanleer. 

Vazquez spoke highly of her saying, “She’s coming in as a freshman, and so far she’s blocking best on the team right now. Performance wise, I’d say Camille [has exceeded my expectations], intangibles and just a great person on court.” 

She praised Callie Chamulak as well saying, “She’s a kid that came in as a setter, she has been putting in work before and after practice to work on her passing. She is really someone who pushes our team to work on the details and that’s really great.”

The team went on to face UMBC later Friday afternoon. They would face a similar result as they lost the first set, 18-25, but came back strong with a 25-17 win in the second set. 

Losing two close sets would close out the match for the Griffs, as they fell 22-25 in both sets. Simmons continued to be a leader on the offensive side of the ball, tallying 11 kills. Hannah Nelson, again, continued to shine on both sides of the ball, adding nine kills and 14 digs against UMBC.

For the final match of the weekend, the Griffs took on the Charlotte 49ers. It was a hard fought match that the Griffs took to five sets, but were still unable to come out on top. 

They had a rocky start, losing the first set 18-25. The Griffs came back with two consecutive wins, 25-22 in the second set and 25-17 in the third. The 49ers hit back in set four, winning by way of a 25-16 score. This forced a fifth set, in which the Griffs fell 5-15. Nelson finished off a terrific weekend with 15 kills and 15 digs against Charlotte.

Although they could not find a way to win last weekend, the team continues to work and improve for the future. 

“Coming out of this past weekend, we need to work on offensively finishing more balls, especially while were in transition and in the middle of a rally,” Vazquez said. “Last week if you had asked me that question, it was a different answer. You know, we’re subtly making improvements and I’m always looking for something to work on that next week before a competition.”

Tomorrow Canisius will stay in Buffalo to participate in the Blue and White Invitational hosted by the University at Buffalo on Sept. 20 and 21 at Alumni Arena.

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