The Canisius volleyball team opens play this weekend by hosting the five-team Golden Griffin Invitational. For a tournament schedule, click here.
The Canisius volleyball program has reached a consistent level during recent seasons. The Golden Griffins have finished in the top four of the league standings in each of the last three seasons and five times in the last seven years. They are still trying to get over the hump of winning the program’s first conference championship.
To accomplish that goal, it will require the meshing of senior leadership with underclassmen talent to produce a dynamic and willingness to accept roles and put the team first on a daily basis.
“The balance for us would be that maturity meets talent. I think that’s the next step in the game for our program,” coach Cathy Hummel said. “We have four seniors but we will be playing a number of freshmen and sophomores consistently. We may seem senior laden but there are a lot of underclassmen who will be in the lineup."
Canisius won 16 matches in 2012 and posted a 13-5 record in MAAC play, its best record against conference opponents since the 2006 season. The depth displayed by that team became apparent throughout the season when Hummel could call on a number of players to step up at various times. MAAC coaches also appeared to appreciate that depth by voting the team third in the preseason coaches' poll despite the loss of three starters from last year's squad.
The 13th-year head coach is looking for that same team-first attitude from her team this season.
“The true key will be getting the willingness for our players to contribute when they are needed and not get caught up in starting roles,” Hummel said. “We did that really well last year and that is important this year for our team.”
Setters and Libero
Canisius will have to replace four-year starter and two-time All-MAAC selection Allyson Severyn in the libero position. Severyn set the program record with 2,288 career digs and ranked 10th nationally in 2012 with a 5.76 digs per set average. Junior Emily Litwin has earned the starting libero spot throughout the offseason and will don the different-color uniform for the Griffs.
The Griffs return both of their setters in senior Sydney Palka and sophomore Grace Streicher. The playing time for that duo will be determined throughout the season, dependent on the system being used by the Griffs and who has the hot hand.
Emily Litwin • Junior • 29 matches, 2.05 digs per set
"Emily is starting as our libero. We are confident she is going to do a great job and build off of her first year with us when she was in the rotation in the back row."
Jordan Tylec • Sophomore • 23 matches, 21 digs
"Jordan’s role is to come off the bench defensively and serve for us in key spots. We want to use that to help us win matches and win points in important situations."
Sydney Palka • Senior • 29 matches, 8.99 assists per set
"We look to Syd in a vocal leadership role and that is something she has grown into tremendously. Her team first attitude and unselfishness is great and will hopefully gets us to that first MAAC championship."
Grace Streicher • Sophomore • 29 matches, 146 assists
"Grace will have a bigger role on the court than last year. Her playing time, along with Sydney's, will depend on what type of system we run."
Canisius loses one starter in Logan Sulongga. The fifth-year senior played in 29 matches (starting 25) and ranked fourth on the team in kills per set and third in attack percentage.
The Golden Griffins return the rest of their offense at the outside hitter positions. The combination of senior returners in Emily Elek and Jessica Warner along with a large number of underclassmen pushing for playing time will give Canisius a number of options in the front row.
Emily Elek • Senior • 29 matches, 2.25 kills per set, 2.05 digs per set
“Emily is the wily veteran of our team. She is a leader on and off the court and is very recognizable across campus. We look forward to drawing off of her leadership this season.”
Jessica Warner • Senior • 29 matches, 2.18 kills per set, 0.55 blocks per set
“Jess can be an impact player for us and a difference maker. Her competitiveness helps us in the gym daily."
Olivia Chrzanowski • Junior • 21 matches, 2.00 kills per set
“Liv adds a different style of hitting and depth to the outside that we will have to draw upon in different situations. She helps us stay competitive and provides another look for our outside hitters.”
Rachel Kline • Sophomore • 13 matches, 20 kills
“Rachel will have the opportunity to play a lot for us. Her consistency is starting to catch up with her talent and can lead to significant playing time.”
Jacklyn Malusa • Freshman
“Jackie is a player who needs her maturity and emotions to meet her talent. When she can do that consistently, she will be able to contribute to our team and our pin hitters.”
Katlyn Tyler • Freshman
“KT comes in with a lot of talent and doesn’t look out of place. Her challenge will be to catch up to the speed of the game. If she can do that, we can expect great things to happen.”
Canisius also loses a starter in the middle with four-time All-MAAC selection Samantha Good graduating. The Golden Griffins, who have ranked in the top three of the MAAC in blocking in each year since 2006, will look to returning starter Roxanne Hernandez as well as sophomore Lauren Siebert to be the primary players in the middle of the front row.
Roxanne Hernandez • Senior • 28 matches, .252 attack percentage, 0.91 blocks per set
“The transformation of Roxanne has been outstanding. You can see how she wants to make the most of her senior season and last chance to win a MAAC Championship. Everyone is looking at her on the court, and she is responding with great leadership by example.”
Amy Osinski • Sophomore • 6 matches
“Amy had the best spring improvement of anyone on her team. She is going to see some time and get an opportunity because of that hard work to provide relief to our starters but not provide a decline in productivity.”
Lauren Siebert • Sophomore • 21 matches, 1.26 kills per set, .248 attack percentage
“Lauren is going to be a starter this year after having to wait her turn and play in a support role last year. She is athletic and eager and will provide a good balance with Roxanne.”
Gabrielle Vetere • Freshman
“I think Gabby’s ceiling is high. With her work ethic and high volleyball IQ, we will see her make us a better team in practice and gives us some depth. She is another solid option to call on throughout the season.”