CANISIUS COLLEGE ATHLETICS
The Canisius volleyball team could not complete the historic run in its first-ever MAAC Championship match, falling to regular-season champion Iona Saturday evening, 3-1, as the Gaels earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s bid in the NCAA Tournament.
Iona won the match by scores of 26-24, 18-25, 25-12, 25-18 to improve to 20-7 overall. The Blue and Gold end the season at 17-12 overall.
Canisius senior Sara Wesley and freshman Melina Woods led the Griffs with 11 kills each, while juniors Leah Simmons and Gabrielle Darnaby followed with nine kills. Wesley also led the team in blocks with five block assists and a solo block, as Simmons added three block assists. Junior Cassidy Ceriani recorded 37 assists to go with ten digs and two kills, notching her 10th double-double of the season. Senior Sofia Lopez Acosta ended her career totaling 30 digs, her second straight match with 30-plus digs, as the libero also notched five assists. The team’s two service aces came from senior Donnett Hickson, who also tacked on six assists.
For Iona, Mia Bonsignore posted 16 kills to lead the team. Teammates Claire Archibald and Jamie Smith both registered double-doubles, as Archibald recorded 15 kills and 14 digs, while Smith totaled 10 kills and 10 digs. Libero Jessica Paolucci led the Stags with 15 digs, and Tess Connolly racked up four service aces.
In the opening set, the Griffs took a lead halfway through at 15-13 off a 7-1 run. The Gaels responded with an 8-1 run of their own to take a 24-20 advantage, but Canisius fought back with a 5-0 run with set point on the line to retake the lead. Iona pulled out the set though, 26-24.
The second set saw the Blue and Gold give up the first point to the Gaels before taking the lead and never looking back. Using a .458 hitting percentage in the frame and holding Iona to a -.026 clip, the Griffs tie the match up with a 25-18 victory. Iona came out on fire in the third set with a 7-0 opening streak, rolling on to win the stanza with a 25-12 score.
In the fourth set, Canisius jumped out to a 5-2 lead, but Iona chipped away and took a 9-8 advantage. That was all the MAAC’s top team needed, clinching the championship with a 25-18 win over the Griffs to take the match in four sets.
Head Coach Lenika Vazquez‘s Postgame Comments
“We did not get the outcome we wanted today, but we lost to a worthy opponent in Iona. I’m just so proud of the team and what they accomplished this season and this weekend.”
• Saturday’s match was the 45th all-time meeting between these two MAAC schools, with Iona leading the series by a 27-18 margin.
• Wesley’s 11 kills gives her ten matches with 10-plus kills, while Woods also recorded her ten match with double-digit kills.
• Lopez Acosta recorded 20-plus digs in 15 matches this season, and 30-plus in three contests.
• Lopez Acosta’s 30 digs Saturday helped the senior move into sixth in program history, ending with 577 digs on the season.
• With 1002 career digs, Lopez Acosta ends three short of Jennifer Hall (1005 digs) for 10th all-time in the program record books.
• Ceriani has recorded 30-or-more assists 21 times this season. The setter’s 1,015 assists this season sits 7th all-time.
• Ceriani’s 2,704 career assists moves her into sole possession of third in program history, needing 1,004 more to move into second all-time.
• Wesley boosted her career hitting percentage to .256, sitting seventh in program history (minimum 500 kills), four points shy of Amy Allen’s .260 clip.