Volleyball looks to make repeat run at conference title

“They talk about it a lot [the MAAC championship loss]. A lot of the conversation is, ‘We were so close, and we don’t want to feel like that again.’ Coach Vazquez knows that her team is using last season’s historic run to fuel themselves this fall.

Sophomore Melina Woods jumps up to spike a ball in a match against West Virginia August 24. Photo courtesy of Dean Bogart/GoGriffs.com

By: Matt Duke

Less than a year removed from their first ever appearance in the Mid Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship, the Griffs volleyball team has started non conference play.

Head coach Lenika Vazquez is ready for the season ahead, but does not want to look too far into the future.  

“I’m a day-to-day kind of coach. I think that every experience teaches us something new. I think it shows us exactly what we need to come in here and work on,” Vazquez explains. “That’s generally how I look at things, day-to-day, focus on the details, and my goal is to keep them focused on the details daily.” 

Vazquez also mentioned that she wants her team to learn from past experiences and focus on the task at hand. 

Last year’s MAAC championship was one of those past experiences. 

“They talk about it a lot [MAAC championship]. A lot of the conversation is, ‘We were so close, and we don’t want to feel like that again. That’s their language and if that’s what fuels them, I’m on board,” Vazquez said. “Just as long as we follow my philosophy of one day at a time, and taking care of the business in here, and staying healthy, and getting good grades, then we’re gonna be in a good place.” 

This past weekend, Canisius traveled to Queens, N.Y., to participate in the Jack Kaiser Classic, hosted by St. John’s University. The team played in three games over the course of the weekend, the first of which was against St. John’s on Friday afternoon. They dropped the opening three sets to the tournament hosts 20-25, 21-25, and 15-25. 

Leah Simmons started her senior year off strong with eight kills and two blocks. Bree Long, a freshman libero, started off her college tenure with eight digs and an ace.

The second of three games would be the Blue and Gold’s second of the day. The Griffs would fall to the Howard Bisons in three sets as well. The Griffs fell 19-25, 16-25, 20-25 in each set, respectively. Sophomore Melina Woods put up great numbers in game two with 11 kills and five digs. Cassidy Ceriani, now a senior, continues her illustrious career with Canisius adding 29 assists, seven digs, three kills, and an ace. 

On Saturday, Canisius played their third and final game of the weekend, and could not overcome the Lions from Columbia, losing all three sets once again, 22-25, 24-26, 22-25, respectively.

 The offense, which was spearheaded by sophomore Hannah Nelson with 11 kills, which was good for a .300 hitting percentage, could not muster up enough on the afternoon. Nelson defended well for the Griffs, too, notching two blocks. Senior Leah Simmons added a strong effort on both sides of the ball, tallying nine kills and 11 digs. 

Simmons looks to step up and be a leader in all aspects for the team this year. 

“This year I’m definitely gonna work on rallying the team more. I am a senior, and I want to hold myself accountable,” Simmons said. “I need to step up and bring the team together in times when we really need it.” 

The Griffs continue their season as they head to Baltimore, MD., to compete in the Charm City Challenge today and Saturday against Loyola (MD), University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMBC) and Charlotte University. 

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