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Canisius falls to NU in opening Battle of the Bridge contest


Despite evening the match up at 1-1 in the second frame, the Canisius volleyball program was edged by rival Niagara, 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 28-26, 25-22) at the Gallagher Center on Thursday night. With the loss Canisius dropped to 6-13 and 4-5 in MAAC play, while Niagara improved to 11-7 overall, and 7-2 in conference action.
In the first set Canisius let a 22-21 lead slip away, as Niagara scored four-straight points to clinch the first-frame, 25-22. Leah Simmons paced the Griffs in the set with four kills.
Canisius evened things in the second frame, leading most of the way, and besting the Purple Eagles, 25-18, knotting the match up, 1-1, headed into the intermission. Claire Leonard led the team with five kills.
Out of the break the two team jockeyed for points, as the Purple Eagles outlasted the Blue and Gold and took a 2-1 lead after a 28-26, third set victory.
Niagara ended up taking a close fourth set, that saw no lead greater than four points, scoring four of the final five points with the score tied 21-21 to, take the set 25-22 and the match 3-1.
Leonard finished the match as the contest lead in kills with 13. She also came up one dig short of the double-double with nine. Leah Simmons also reached double figures in kills with 11.
Sofia Lopez Acosta appeared to pick up where she left off against Manhattan, ending up with 23 digs, two shy of her season-best set against the Jaspers, while
Cassidy Ceriani was two shy of her season-best in assists with 40. She also chipped in 12 digs for the double-double.
"The Defense stepped up today after we made some adjustments this week," head coach Lenika Vazquezsaid. "I saw them executing that today and that was really nice. Down the stretch Niagara finished balls. That was the difference."
"What we can carry forward is our confidence and our ability to rally back and forth with a team that is second in our conference. If we can continue this confidence and they see how well we can play as a unit and how much we can accomplish, then we'll come out on the other end of this next time we play them."
• With the loss Canisius is now 50-52-2 overall against Niagara.
• The Purple Eagles have reeled off five straight wins and are 8-3 in the last 11 contests.
• Both Cassidy Ceriani (40 assists) and Sofia Lopez Acosta (23 digs) came within two their respective season highs in the the match.
• With Claire Leonard's 13 kills, she's reached double-figures in four of her last five matches and 11 matches overall.
• Leah Simmons tallied her third-highest kill total of the season on Thursday, with 11.
Canisius has its bye weekend coming up before it opens a five-match homestand on Oct. 21 against Saint Peter's. That match begins at 1 p.m.