Leah Simmons


On the final day of the Sacramento State Invitational, the Canisius volleyball team fought back to grab a five-set win over CSU Bakersfield at Colburg Court in Sacramento, Calif. Senior Cassidy Ceriani went on a tear in her home state, racking up 45 assists in addition to 19 digs, seven kills and a career-high five total blocks, leading the Golden Griffins past the Roadrunners, 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-8).
Canisius improved to 2-1 with the victory, while the loss drops CSU Bakersfield to 0-3 on the season.
Aside from senior Leah Simmons and junior Andrea Diaz Lopez notching 13 kills apiece, sophomore Melina Woods knocked down eight kills for the Griffs to go with nine digs and two service aces. Freshman Camille Vanleer and sophomore Hannah Nelson followed with six kills each, while Vanleer and Simmons both had four block assists. Freshman Bree Long led the team again with 20 digs, chipping in three aces as well, and sophomore Ashley Kekeisen added 11 digs.
The Roadrunners’ Hayley McCluskey led all players with 14 kills, with Brooke Boiseau and Hana Makonova both registering 10 kills on the day. Sidney Wicks led with 24 assists, while Leisa Elisaiafollowed at 22 assists. Mapuhola Sekona topped CSU Bakersfield with 16 digs.
In the opening set, the Blue and Gold got out to an early 8-3 lead and never looked back. With four kills from both Woods and Diaz Lopez in the first frame, Canisius pulled out the 25-19 win. The second set saw the Roadrunners stay on the Griffs’ heels until a late 5-0 run allowed CSU Bakersfield to move out in front, 20-18, and eventually take the set, 25-22. Trading runs throughout the third set, Canisius took the lead at 20-17 off five-straight points but CSUB responded with its own 8-0 run that finished off the Griffs, 25-20.
With Nelson tallying five of her six kills in the fourth set, Canisius used an 8-2 stretch to jump out to a 12-9 advantage and then had a late four-point run that set up match point in the 25-19 victory. After taking the first point of the fifth set and CSU Bakersfield taking the second, Canisius went on a 9-2 run that the Roadrunners never recovered from, as the Griffs closed the match with a 15-8 set victory.
Head Coach Lenika Vazquez‘s Post-Match Comments
“The team made a decision to win. Even when they seemed to be down, they were never out. They played hard and smart and never quit.
Game Notes
• Simmons and Ceriani were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
• Ceriani finished the weekend with 101 assists, 51 digs and 13 kills, while Simmons had 39 kills at a .308 hitting percentage to go with 10 total blocks.
• Saturday was the first all-time meeting between Canisius and CSU Bakersfield.
• Ceriani’s double-double was the 39th of her career.
• Saturday’s contest was Long’s second-straight match with 20-or-more digs.
• Diaz Lopez’s 13 kills are a career high, previously reaching nine kills twice during the 2017 season.
• Senior Gabrielle Darnaby’s three service aces also set a career high.
• This was the 28th career match for Simmons with double-digit kills.
• The last time Canisius had two wins in the opening weekend was 2017.
• This is the first time the Griffs have won back-to-back five-set matches since 2016, when the Blue and Gold defeated Manhattan and Iona at home Oct. 8-9.
• Canisius had not played two-or-more five-set matches in a season’s opening weekend since Sept. 4-5, 1998, when the Griffs beat St. Francis (Pa.) and Drexel in back-to-back five-set wins before losing to Leigh in five sets.
Up Next
The Griffs head to Queens, N.Y., for the Jack Kaiser Volleyball Classic on Sept. 6-7. Canisius will face tournament host St. John’s and Howard on Friday, before wrapping up the weekend with a Saturday matinee against Columbia.

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