By: Vinnie Christiano
On senior day, the Canisius volleygriffs defeated the Manhattan Jaspers in four sets (3-1) to move to 8-5 in MAAC play.
Head coach Shannon Thompson said earlier in the week that she planned to start and play all of her seniors on Saturday, and all seven saw significant playing time during the contest.
The beginning of the first set was tumultuous for both teams, with errors on both sides of the net while the teams exchanged points. Capitalizing on the Jasper errors, Canisius went on an eight point run to lead 11-5, before Manhattan added two quick ones to make it an 11-7 game. However, it was the closest the away team would get in the first set, and Canisius led by almost double Manhattan’s score the rest of the game.
All of Canisius’s players in the first set were seniors, but the group seemed to get in rhythm quickly after the match’s slow start. “We ran a lineup that’s not even traditional volleyball,” said Thompson, “[they had to] get used to their opposites being different, where they were on the court was opposites, so it was getting adjusted to the funky lineup.”
The Griffs again struggled at the outset of the second set, and Manhattan continued to hold the lead much of the way. The blue and gold made a late set run, tying the game and taking a late lead courtesy of a service ace from senior Rachel Kinney. After being knotted up at 24, two Jasper errors gave Canisius a 26-24 victory in set two.
Manhattan adjusted well for the third set, and after being tied 2-2, never looked back, leading the rest of the set. Their best set of the day, Manhattan was noticeably more aggressive in this set, and emerged with a 25-20 victory to keep themselves alive. The Jaspers hit .219 in the third set, significantly better than the other three, none of which they hit over .057.
“I felt like we got away from playing our style of volleyball, and we switched into a normal lineup so it wasn’t as confusing, because I felt like it was a little confusing,” said Thompson about her message to the team in between the third and ultimately final fourth set.
The Griffs returned to form in the fourth set, leading the majority of the way and defeating the Jaspers by a score of 25-18.
Canisius led in every major statistical category on the day, most notably ending with 14 services aces as a team. Senior Hannah Nelson led the team with six, and fellow senior Giulia La Longa was next with three.
Senior Callie Chamulak led the team in assists with a career high mark of 27, and also reaching a career high was senior Joli Ruby, who set a new career best digs marker of 18. The Griffs held Manhattan to hitting just .086 on the day, the lowest any team has hit against Canisius this year.
In the second game of the weekend, the Griffs defeated the Iona Gaels in three sets to sweep their weekend homestand.
The loss was Iona’s sixth straight, bumping them down a very busy conference standings. The Gaels now only sit above Manhattan and St. Peter’s, whereas the Griffs have slotted back into the fourth position, behind Fairfield, Marist, and Rider.
Canisius led all three sets most of the way, dominating the first two to win 25-18 and 25-13. Early in the second set, the Gaels had an advantage before Canisius tied the contest at 8-8. The blue and gold led the rest of the way, stringing together long scoring runs to win by double digit points.
Building on the momentum, Canisius led 11-5 in the third set thanks to two quick scoring runs. Iona answered with a run of their own, and before long the Gaels had the lead 21-20. Despite the advantage, a five point run from Canisius sealed the game and ended the match.
Nelson continued her impressive weekend with five more service aces on Sunday and Camila Vasquez led a well-balanced team attack in kills with 10. Ashley Kekeisen added 26 assists to eclipse the 900-career collegiate assists mark.
Next up for the Griffs is a home and home series against the Niagara Purple Eagles, who sit just behind Canisius in the conference standings. The first game will take place at the Koessler Athletic Center on Nov. 4, which also happens to be the last home game of the season, and the second contest will be at Niagara University on Tuesday Nov. 9, both games will begin at 6 p.m.