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Volleyball starts off MAAC play perfect

By: Vincent Christiano III

The Golden Griffins volleyball team began MAAC play with a strong start this past weekend, defeating both Siena and Marist to start conference play 2–0. After a tough non-conference schedule where Canisius lost all nine of its matches, the team rebounded in league play for their first game on Saturday.

Facing off against Siena, who also went without a win in non-conference play, the Griffs found themselves in a two-set-to-one deficit early, but won both the fourth and fifth sets to claim the victory. The Griffs dominated the fourth set, scoring nine consecutive points to win 25–13. The team then won the decisive fifth set by a three-point margin.

Senior Rachel Kinney had a standout performance for Canisius, recording a team-leading 17 kills to go along with an ace and 10 digs, tied for third on the team.

On Sunday, Canisius hosted Marist, a team that saw a shortened season become even shorter last year due to in-house issues with COVID-19. This time, it was Canisius jumping out to a quick lead, winning the first two sets rather decisively. The Red Foxes bounced back with a four-point victory in the third set, but the Griffs put the game away in four sets, winning by a 25–19 decision.

“Honestly it really was a team win. Some [players] stepped up one game, some stepped up in another, but honestly, with the energy on the bench, it didn’t matter who was out there. They just played their volleyball,” head coach Shannon Thompson said.

This game, it was Camila Vazquez leading the team in kills with 10: Ella Loussia and Kinney were tied for second with nine each. For the second game in a row, Bree Long led the team in digs, with 23 on Saturday and 19 on Sunday. Long’s 18th dig on Sunday marked 1000th dig in her collegiate career.

Despite the career milestone, Long was still eager to relay the compliments to the entire team’s defense.

“There’s not one specific one that’s memorable, but at the MAAC Championships last year, I do remember our defense as a whole really coming together. We switched into a rotational defense, and it made us realize how important it is to trust each other and have each other’s backs,” Long said of reaching the milestone.

Coach Thompson emphasized the benefits of having such a reliable libero on the roster. “It’s always nice to have defense you can rely on, and you know that if your first line of defense — your blocking — doesn’t get it, you have someone who can pick it up,” she said. “She plays a lot of the court, and she does a really great job.”

This weekend, the Griffs have two more contests, the first of which is the defending regular-season champion Fairfield Stags. That match begins on Saturday at 12 p.m. and will be available on the Golden Griffin Broadcast Network. The second match of the weekend, also from the Koessler Center, also begins at 12 p.m., when the Quinnipiac Bobcats come to town on Sunday. That game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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