Volleyball defends Main Street in home opening weekend

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Leah Simmons helped lead Canisius to a weekend sweep of Saint Peter’s and Rider last weekend. (Photo courtesy of Canisius Athletics)

By Matthew Duke

Communications Director

The Canisius volleyball team played their first pair of matches at the Koessler Athletic Center last weekend.

The home opener was against Saint Peter’s and the Griffs took the match in four sets, led by junior middle blocker Leah Simmons.

Simmons finished the match with 16 kills and two blocks. Sara Wesley and Camila Vazquez also contributed to the win, adding 13 kills and two blocks and 11 kills and four blocks, respectively.

On Sunday, the Griffs beat Rider in straight sets. Once again, Simmons led the team in kills with 11, while tallying one block as well. Cassidy Ceriani totaled 32 assists in the victory, moving her to 2,097 in her Canisius career. This is enough to place her sixth all-time among Canisius assist leaders. She also added two kills and four digs.

Not only have the Griffs gotten out to a great start in conference play, where they are 3-1 against MAAC competition for the first time since 2015, they are being rewarded for it.

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Sofía López Acosta was named the MAAC’s Defensive Player of the Week this past Monday. (Marshall Haim / The Griffin file photo)

Simmons was named the MAAC’s Offensive Player of the Week for her 27 kills over the two-game span. Junior libero Sofía López Acosta was also honored by the conference, earning MAAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. López Acosta had 42 digs in the two-game weekend for the Griffs.

“I hope these games are an indicator of how the season is gonna go,” head coach Lenika Vazquez said with a laugh. “I think it’s good for the team to see how well they can perform and build that confidence in themselves. Like we’re that team and we can do that.”

Vazquez is optimistic that the team can continue to do well as the season goes on, they just need to maintain the focus they have now.

“I feel like we’re doing a great job of doing what we need to in practice. We actually didn’t even scrimmage,” she said. “We still played and were competitive with each other, but we were able to work on some system pieces where we work on communication between people. If we continue to keep our focus there, we’ll continue to play strong as a unit.”

To that end, the season will still get more difficult as the year continues on.

“I think the toughest part is going to be the fact that the target is gonna switch,” Vazquez continued. “If we keep playing like this, that target is gonna be on our back and people will be shooting at us. That mental switch could be great.”

Team morale is a large part of keeping team mentality in the right place. The team needs to maintain positive morale in order to maintain confidence in themselves.

“I just wanna win,” Vazquez said with a smile. “I think that when we get wins. It is great for us, as a unit, to see our hard work pay off, so whether we’re at home or on the road it’s great. It’s obviously a bonus for us at home, because we’re defending Main Street, I guess, if I want to be cheesy.”

The team is headed on the road this week, and, after being on a three-game win streak, the team needs to keep their energy up.

“It’s always hard going on the road,” Simmons said. “You know you’re tired and you have school work, but it’s really important to carry our energy from this past weekend into this weekend. We played really well and it’s important to continue that to beat these teams.”

Simmons leads the team in kills and has attributed it to a couple different things, one being her teammates.

“I’ve been able to notice open hits and my teammates have been able to call out my hits for me,” she explained. “It has really been a huge help.”

The team travels to Iona to play the Gaels tomorrow before facing Manhattan on Sunday.

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