By: Vinnie Christiano
The Canisius volleyball team had a bounce-back weekend this past Saturday and Sunday, defeating Iona and Manhattan in MAAC play. Two Canisius players were also featured with weekly MAAC honors for their performance.
After dropping both contests the previous weekend, the Golden Griffins moved to 4-2 in league play this past weekend, edging Iona in five sets but sweeping Manhattan in three. The weekend results moved Canisius into third place in the conference, behind league-favorite Fairfield (5-0) and last year’s champion, Rider (5-1).
The blue and gold traveled downstate for their first away game of conference play. The Iona Gaels (1-3) could’ve jumped ahead of the Griffs in the standings with a win, and started strong jumping out to a two-set-to-none lead. Canisius stormed back, winning the next two sets to force a decisive fifth set, where the Golden Griffins also emerged victorious. The comeback victory moved Canisius back above .500 for the year and dropped Iona down to the bottom half of the MAAC standings.
On Sunday, Canisius was the team starting strong. After defeating Manhattan 25-22 in the first set, the team only improved in the following two sets, winning 25-18 and 25-17 to claim the match victory.
Sunday’s result against the Jaspers marked the fifth time in six matches that the Griffs have out-blocked their opponents. Against Manhattan, Canisius had the advantage with eight blocks to five, and Saturday against Iona, the blue and gold out-blocked the Gaels 14-6.
For their performances over the weekend, two Golden Griffins were awarded with weekly MAAC honors, junior libero Bree Long, and freshman outside hitter Kara Zaucha.
Long, no stranger to MAAC awards, was considered by head coach Shannon Thompson as one of the snubbed players from the pre-season all-MAAC team. Long has recorded 20+ digs in four matches this year, according to gogriffs.com, reaching the milestone of 1000 career digs just two weekends ago. Long was named the MAAC “Libero of the Week”
Zaucha earned her first career MAAC honors through an impressive offensive performance over the weekend. Named the MAAC “Rookie of the Week,” she recorded 10 kills against Iona and 15 kills against Manhattan, in addition to eight blocks over the weekend.
Canisius will look to build on the momentum with two more away games this coming weekend. The first contest is another Saturday matchup, but a rare late afternoon game set to begin at 6 pm. The opponent on Saturday is the Marist Red Foxes, who sit just behind the Griffs in the conference standings at 5-3. On Sunday, Canisius will face-off against Siena (3-3). The Sunday match is set to begin in Loudonville, N.Y. at 1 pm.