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Canisius volleyball earns Senior-Day win over Iona, 3-2


The Canisius volleyball program moved one match closer to a conference tournament berth on Sunday, securing a dramatic 3-2 (25-27, 25-20, 18-25, 25-23, 15-11) senior-day victory over Iona at the Koessler Athletic Center. With the win Canisius improves to 10-14 and 8-6 in the conference, while Iona drops 10-17 overall and 8-7 in MAAC action.
The two teams jockeyed back and forth for the first four sets, trading set wins, and forcing a decisive fifth frame.
In the final stanza, Canisius scored four-straight points with Iona up 2-1, to take a 5-2 lead and force an Iona timeout. Out of the break Iona struck back, scoring five of the next seven points, knotting up things up, 7-7 and forcing a Canisius timeout.
With the score 8-8, Canisius went on a 7-3 run capped by a Claire Archibald service error, to secure the 15-11 set win and the 3-2, match victory.
Claire Leonard paced the offense and was one of three players to reach double-figure kills, as she notched 22 for the match. Leah Simmons and Sara Wesley also tallied double-digit kills with 14 and 11, respectively. The two middle blockers also tallied 10 blocks between them, with Simmons recording four and Wesley tallying six.
Cassidy Ceriani flourished running the offense, tallying 51 assists and 11 digs, while Sofia Lopez Acostaand Donnett Hickson shared libero duties and notched 14 and 11 digs, respectively.
Freshman Jamie Smith paced the Iona offense with 15  kills, and Archibald and Tess Connolly had 14 and 13 kills, respectively.
"We had to refocus on the "us" component," head coach Lenika Vazquez said. "We need to ask 'what do we need to do to make something positive happen'? We started to pay a little closer attention and defend their right side better."
"I have to stick with my philosophy that senior night is like any other night, it's always potentially the last game or chance to do something memorable, but for our seniors it was very memorable. I was very proud of them and the way they pulled together. It was a good day!"
"We have four matches left and we have the type of conference where the fourth place team to the seventh place team at any point can change. So we need to stay focused and grind it out at practice so that we can be effective next weekend"
• With the win, Canisius is now 17-29 against the Gaels.
• Canisius is 7-4 in its last 11 against Iona.
• It's the second time in three years that the Blue and Gold has swept the season series with the Gaels.
• Leonard set a new career and season-best with 22 kills.
• Ceriani posted a new-season high with 51 assists.
• It's the sixth time this season Ceriani has had 40-or-more assists in a match.
• Canisius now has eight MAAC victories and is looking for a MAAC tournament berth for the first time since 2012, when the team went 13-5.
With the team honing in on a conference tournament berth, the Blue and Gold will have to clinch on the road, facing Marist and Siena next weekend (Nov. 4 and Nov. 5) and finishing up the season with Quinnipiac and Fairfield (Nov 11 and Nov. 12). All four matches are slated for 1 p.m. starts.