Volleyball looks to improve on rocky start

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Lenika Vazquez remains optimistic of her team through the first six games. (Tom Wolf/Canisius College file photo)

By Matthew Duke

Communications Director

The volleyball team is looking to start the season off strong this year.

The Griffs have seen some changes since last season, notably they graduated seniors Alexandra George, Kristen Plukas and Samantha Zebuth. Another big loss was freshman standout Claire Leonard, who finished the year with the most kills on the team last year. She announced her transfer to Nebraska-Omaha last March.

However, Coach Lenika Vazquez is hopeful that it will not impact the team.

“We lost some players but our culture and our hard work they’re still here. Because that has been built, we have the freshman talent we’ve brought in and the returners taking the summer to get better,” Vazquez said. “In the six matches we’ve played so far, they’ve really started to show themselves as big players for us this year.”

She remains optimistic for the year, citing the first six games that they already played.

The Griffs dropped five of the first six games, losing the first game in a five-set match to Montana State at the Cleveland State invitational. Canisius would then go on to defeat Binghamton, 3-1, before losing to the host, Cleveland State, in straight sets.

Then at the Akron Invitational last weekend, Canisius would lose all three games in three-match tournament, getting swept by the host Zips and Maryland before losing a four-set match to Stony Brook.

Coach Vazquez emphasized that this is not a good indication of how the team is playing or how she expects the season to go.

“There are a couple of matches we have outplayed our opponent but we lost because we made more errors in certain categories,” Vazquez said. “We have only had two practices in the last few days but we have worked on minimizing errors in those categories and then the wins will come.”

The team is maintaining a loose and fun attitude as they approach the season and Vazquez thinks that will benefit the team tremendously this year.

“As long as they can stay loose and fun,” Vazquez said with a smile. “You know, the test is always when things aren’t great — when errors are being made — can we still keep it loose and fun? That’s what we’re focusing on in practice, so that on gameday we can keep that same energy.”

The team heads to Kalamazoo, Mich., where they will start their weekend off against Milwaukee today, and will round off the tournament against Western Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago on Saturday.

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