By Adam Duke
Following a bye-week, the Griffs were back on the road to face off against the Rider Broncs and the St. Peter’s Peacocks.
Although they lost the first match to Rider 1-3, Coach Lenika Vazquez commended the team’s discipline. “We were evenly matched in a lot of areas,” she said. “We definitely need to improve in blocking, so that’s a main focus this week. We had one block to their seven; they had 12 or 13 block assists, we had zero. So that would be the main difference that needs to be had.”
Against the Broncs, Katlyn Tyler spearheaded the offense in kills with 16, moving her to ninth on Canisius’ all-time list. Sophomore Donnett Hickson led in digs with 15 and freshmen Cassidy Ceriani (38 assists and 12 digs) and Carly Shifflet (10 kills and 12 digs) each recorded double-doubles.
Overall, the Griffs had a better showing offensively, with more kills and more attempts than the Broncs in all four sets. However, as Vazquez stated, the Broncs were able to capitalize off of blocks to pull off the victory.
Against St. Peter’s, the Griffs had a much better showing comparatively. Once again, Tyler led the offense in kills and Hickson led the defense in digs, however the team as a whole was led by Ceriani, who earned the first triple-double the program has seen since 2004. With 30 assists, 10 kills, and 12 digs, Ceriani showed her versatility.
“She was just going after it,” said Vazquez on Ceriani’s performance. “She has definitely, as a freshman, came into her own as a leader and she’s still learning. Every day, she’s picking away. Especially when you have the vet offensive players in there, she doesn’t necessarily want to be the boss of them, but she’s learning how to do that.”
Vazquez also mentioned that the team’s scouting of St. Peter’s allowed them to recognize the Peacocks’ use of a wider defense. She said that it acted an indication that they attack the ball more, and she alluded to the fact that the Griffs have the ability to out-dig the Peacocks 76-59. This was another contribution to the team’s success. “Our defensive mood had switched as a group, and it was expected for us to go after everything, from each other. They held each other accountable, so the defense shifted,” she said.
Tyler accredited the support from the coaching staff, as well as the constant encouragement from her teammates, family, and friends for her success both in games this season and in earning 1073 kills to this point in her collegiate career.
In addition, Ceriani praised her teammates for helping her accomplish the feat.
“Usually, I don’t have the satisfaction of getting a lot of kills, so seeing that – 10 dumps during that whole game – was really cool and satisfying,” said the setter. ”They put me in the best position to have dumps. If it’s a bad pass, [the other team is] usually waiting for it.”
After her performance, Ceriani was awarded Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie-of-the-Week for the second time, her first award being two weeks ago after her 61-assist match against Manhattan.
“I was very surprised because I had already got it, so I didn’t expect to get it again,” she said. “The second time was really about showing how, if you put hard work in, you can definitely be recognized, so it was really rewarding to me.”
This weekend, the Griffs return to the Koessler Athletic Center for their second matchup against the Manhattan Jaspers and the Siena Saints. Last time the Griffs squared off against the Jaspers and Saints, they walked away with two victories.
Tyler noted that the team must maintain a goal of continual improvement. “We need to do the small things right,” she said, “and eventually the bigger picture will fall into place and we’ll find success.”
Similarly, Vazquez stated that to repeat what they’ve already done, the Griffs need to focus on the task at hand. Rather than focus on the past or the future, they must focus on the moment they are in and be working hard in that moment.
“As I say always, go hard every time you’re on the court and give your hundred percent,” added Ceriani. “We can definitely fight through each point, and we can win against these teams because they’re all beatable if we give 100%.”