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Canisius volleyball caps Senior Day with sweep of Niagara

CANISIUS COLLEGE ATHLETICS

Volleyball Senior Day 2018
Game Recap
The Canisius volleyball program sent its seniors off in style, as the Golden Griffins posted a 3-0 sweep of long-time rival Niagara in the team's final home regular-season match of the year in the Koessler Athletic Center Saturday afternoon. Canisius won the match by scores of 25-17, 25-11, 25-18 to improve to 14-11 overall and 12-4 in MAAC play. The Purple Eagles slipped to 9-16 overall and 9-7 in conference action with the loss.
 
Canisius senior Sara Wesley had eight kills, an assist, a dig and a block assist in her final home match, while fellow senior Donnett Hickson added six digs. Senior libero Sofia Lopez Acosta led all players with 20 digs in the winning effort to go along with three service aces and a kill. Junior Leah Simmons led the way offensively for the Blue and Gold with 14 kills, while fellow junior Gabrielle Darnaby added nine kills and two digs. Junior setter Cassidy Ceriani was credited with 41 assists, eight digs, five kills and two block assists in the win as well, as the Griffs swept the regular-season series with Niagara for the first time since 2013.
 
For Niagara, Grace Hetterscheidt was good for seven kills, while teammate Mary Redl chipped in six kills and five digs in the losing effort. Caroline Leitch was credited with four kills, eight digs and three assists for the Purple Eagles, who hit just .134 for the match as a team.
 
In the first set, Canisius controlled play from the start, using an 8-3 run early on to take a 14-8 lead in the opening session before Niagara took a timeout. Simmons was one of four Griffs to record multiple kills in the first set, while freshman Melina Woods added two kills and a service ace to help the Griffs score the 25-17 victory.
 
In the second set, Canisius hit .615 as a team, and Simmons pounded down six more kills to lift the Blue and Gold to the 25-11 victory. In the final set, Canisius trailed 14-12 before taking a timeout. Out of that timeout, the Griffs used a 5-2 scoring spurt to take a 17-15 lead, capped by a kill from Simmons. Down the stretch, Simmons had two kills, freshman Camila Vazquez recorded one of her six kills on the day and a Niagara attack error sealed the 25-18 set win for the Blue and Gold, the team's sixth 3-0 victory at home this season.
 
Head Coach Lenika Vazquez's Postgame Comments
"I think the growth in the seniors is on many levels in their time here. Leadership, their ability to communicate with the incoming players, pushing the culture change and the intangibles have been huge. Donnett Hickson did a great job just kind of rallying everybody, whether she is on or off the court, and today she showed really well and she dug a lot of balls for her team. Sara is going to hit balls, you never have to ask her to hit a ball. She's got two speeds, hard and harder, and that's pretty much it. But her growth has been in her ability to transition, communicate a bit more and be flexible. Sofia came in her junior year, so this her second year here. She has definitely stepped into a leadership role on the court and just talking to the team all the time about what's happening and how they can find success."
 
Game Notes
• Saturday was the 101st all-time meeting between these two long-time rivals, with Canisius leading the series 51-48-2.
• Canisius' win on Saturday gives the school another point in the annual "Battle of the Bridge" series. The Griffs now lead the series 9-1 for the 2018-19 athletic year.
• The Griffs' 3-0 win over Niagara on Saturday, and the Blue and Gold's 3-0 victory in the Gallagher Center Oct. 18, marks the first time since 1990 where Canisius earned a pair of 3-0 wins over Niagara in the same season.
• Canisius closed the home portion of its 2018 schedule with an 8-1 record. The eight home victories are the most for the team since 2010.
• The MAAC win on Saturday gives Canisius 12 league victories this year, which is tied for third-most in program history. The 2006 Canisius team won a school-record 14 league matches.
• Simmons' 14 kills gives her 10-plus kills in six of the team's last 10 contests.
• Lopez Acosta has now recorded 20-plus digs in 12 matches this season. Her 477 digs this season ranks 11th on the school's single-season digs list.
• Ceriani's 41 assists on Saturday marks the seventh time this season she's collected 40-or-more assists in a match. With her 2,535 career assists, she is just the fifth player in program history to record 2,500-plus assists during her time in a Canisius uniform.
 
Up Next
Canisius will close out the 2018 regular season Nov. 10-11, when the team travels to the state of Connecticut for a pair of MAAC contests. The Griffs will play at Quinnipiac Nov. 10, before closing out the campaign at three-time defending MAAC champion Fairfield Nov. 11. Game time versus Quinnipiac is set for 1 p.m.