Despite a late push that forced a fifth set, the Canisius volleyball team fell, 3-2, to Kent State in its first match of the Ellicott Hotels Western New York Invitational Friday night at the Koessler Athletic Center. With the loss, the Golden Griffins move to 2-5 on the year, while the Golden Flashes improved to 3-5 in 2023.

Mackenzie McGuire paced the way offensively for Kent State with 20 kills, while her teammate, Bryn Roberts, added in a match-high 27 digs. At the net, Burgundy Walters collected seven total blocks, six of which came in the form of block assists.

Canisius was led by a pair of double-doubles coming from outside hitters Kara Zaucha (14 kills, 19 digs) and Cameron Grange (13 kills, 15 digs). Four different Griffs recorded two service aces each, with Zaucha leading the Blue and Gold with three of her own. At the net, freshman Kalia Reisma was credited with five total blocks, including a solo block, while sophomore Ella Bourque, the MAAC’s reigning Setter of the Year and Rookie of the Year, tallied 39 assists in her first game action of the 2023 campaign.

The Griffs scored a 25-22 win in the opening set behind four kills from Zaucha. The Golden Flashes evened the contest at 1-1 by taking the second set, 25-23. Kent State earned that set victory by scoring the last three points of the set to erase a 23-22 deficit late in the frame.

With the score tied 19-19 in the third set, Kent State took a 2-1 lead in the match thanks to a 6-0 run to end the frame with the 25-19 victory. The Golden Flashes posted a .346 hitting percentage (12-3-26) in that third-set win, while limiting Canisius to a .176 attack percentage for the set.

Down 15-11 in the fourth set, head coach Tom Hanna brought sophomore Shannon Kehoe in to serve. The Huntington, N.Y., native turned the tide for Canisius, dropping down back-to-back service aces to bring the Griffs to within two points at 15-13. The consecutive aces ignited a 12-7 Canisius run to close the set, and force the winner-take-all final frame.

The Griffs jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the deciding set, with Grange contributing a pair of kills. But the Golden Flashes defense stepped up to the task and held Canisius to just two more points the remainder of the way en route to the 15-6 set victory, and to seal the 3-2 match win.

• Friday was Canisius’ home opener after the team played its first two weekends on the road.
• Friday marked the fifth time Canisius and Kent State have met in volleyball. Four of those five contests have gone to five sets.
• Canisius has played a five-set match on each of the first three Fridays of the 2023 campaign.
• The two service aces for Kehoe are a new career high for the sophomore.
• The 13 kills for Grange are the most for the freshman in her first two career contests as a Griff.
• Zaucha’s double-double effort with 14 kills and 19 digs is her third of the season and the 10th in her career. The 19 digs stand as a new career high.
• Bourque has now recorded 35-or more assists in 16 of her 29 career contests.

The Blue and Gold will conclude the Ellicott Hotels Western New York Invitational Saturday at 12 p.m., when the team hosts Purdue Fort Wayne. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN+.

For complete coverage of Canisius volleyball, follow the Griffs @GriffVolleyball on both X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram.