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Canisius volleyball matches program record with win over Fairfield


Leah Simmons
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Canisius volleyball team was able to do what no Golden Griffin squad has done since 2006, as the Blue and Gold took down Fairfield 3-1 Sunday afternoon to earn its 14th win in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play this season.
The win matches the 2006 team's program-record 14 conference wins and also caps off a regular season that saw the Griffs finish in second place for the first time since joining the MAAC in 1990.
Canisius won the match by scores of 25-17, 25-23, 24-26, 25-23 to improve to 16-11 overall and 14-4 in MAAC play. The Stags fell to 12-15 overall and 11-7 in conference action with the loss.
Canisius junior Leah Simmons led the Griffs with 15 kills, while freshman Melina Woods followed Simmons with 13 kills at a .414 hitting percentage, adding on one service ace. Senior Sara Wesley also tacked on nine kills and five block assists, posting a .444 attack clip. Junior Gabrielle Darnaby and freshman Camila Vazquez both tallied eight kills. Darnaby and Wesley racked up five block assists apiece while Vazquez added four block assists. JuniorCassidy Ceriani recorded her ninth double-double of the season, as the setter finished with 46 assists and 12 digs, adding on one kill and a service ace. Senior Sofia Lopez Acosta had a team-high 27 digs, and the libero also notched four assists and a service ace. Leading the team with two service aces, junior Carly Shifflet registered nine digs and two kills as well in the winning effort.
For Fairfield, Mayda Garcia posted a match-high 18 kills, completing the double-double with 15 digs. Teammate Alexis Rich put up a double-double, too, tallying 45 assists and 13 digs. Libero Taylor Rudeen led the Stags with 23 digs, while Rich also led the team with five total blocks.
In the opening set, Canisius took advantage of nine Fairfield attack errors to the Griffs' two, helping the Blue and Gold pull out the 25-17 victory.
The second set was much tougher for the Griffs, as a 4-0 run by the Stags evened the frame at 18-18. Fairfield tied it again at 20-20, but Canisius was able to fend off the home team for a 25-23 win. Fairfield altered its attack in the third set, as the Stags used an 8-0 streak to take the early 11-6 lead. The Blue and Gold clawed back to tie it at 24-24, but Fairfield edged out the Griffs, 26-24, on a Luci Albertson kill and a Simmons attack error.
In the fourth set, Canisius used a 11-2 run to erase a five-point Fairfield lead and jump out to the 18-13 advantage. With the Griffs at match point, 24-16, the Stags provided a scare in the form of a 7-0 run, but a Simmons kill ended any chance of a comeback, sealing the 25-23 win.
Head coach Lenika Vazquez's Postgame Comments
"It was a good lesson for the team to see that your opponent is not going to score the last point for you. You have to work, and they did. It was wonderful to witness."
Game Notes
• Sunday's match was the 45th all-time meeting between these two MAAC schools, with Fairfield leading the series by a 31-14 margin.
• This is the Griffs' first regular season sweep of Fairfield since the 2010 season.
• The last time Canisius ended the regular season with three straight wins was 2011. The 2011 team swept six straight contests to close out the regular season.
• Simmons' 15 kills give her double-digit kills in 15 contests this season, including the last four matches.
• Lopez Acosta has now recorded 20-plus digs in 13 matches this season.
• Lopez Acosta's 27 digs Sunday helped the senior surpass the 500-dig plateau on the season, the ninth player in program history to accomplish the milestone. Her 515 digs this season ranks 8th on the school's single-season digs list.
• With 940 career digs, Lopez Acosta is 34 shy of tying Rachel Kline for 10th all-time in the program record books.
• Ceriani has recorded 40-or-more assists nine times this season. The setter's 930 assists this season are 16 away from Grace Streicher's 946 in 2015 that sits 10th all-time.
• Ceriani's 2,619 career assists moves her into a tie with Lauren Lackovich for fourth in program history, needing 75 more to match Streicher's 2,694 career helpers for third place.
• Wesley boosted her career hitting percentage to .255, sitting seventh in program history (minimum 500 kills), five points shy of Amy Allen's .260 clip.
Up Next
Canisius will travel to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the 2018 MAAC Volleyball Championship. Holding the second seed in the tournament, the Griffs earned a bye into the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 16. Canisius will play in the second semifinal match, with opening serve set for 7:30 p.m. The championship match is set for 3 p.m. the following day.

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