Motivation can come from a variety of sources, whether it’s internal or external factors. The Canisius volleyball team has been using a combination since its disappointing 2013 season, which featured a sixth-place finish in the conference standings, as motivation to prepare for the 2014 season.
“We definitely had a disappointing year last season and everyone in that gym has been remembering those feelings to work together and get better in 2014,” coach Cathy Hummel said. “We have tried to use that as motivation throughout the spring semester and during the fall camp to drive us to get back to the level of competing for a conference championship.”
The 2014 season will be the 14th year with Hummel as the head coach of the Golden Griffins. During her tenure, one theme has been common – developing younger players to have them ready to step in and succeed when their opportunity in the lineup comes. This year is no different with upperclassmen being asked to step into roles and be key contributors for the Blue and Gold.
Another area that has been emphasized comes in chemistry. Hummel feels this team excels in that aspect and can use that as a major positive in working toward a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.
“Chemistry is everything for teams, regardless of what level of competition it is,” Hummel said. “To compete for a conference championship, those teams that have the best chemistry, combined with the talent level, will find success and win.”
Junior Lauren Siebert
Canisius has to replace senior Roxanne Hernandez in the top middle hitter spot. The first option will be junior Lauren Siebert, one of the juniors that Hummel is looking at to step up and lead the Griffs. Siebert has shown the ability to be one of the top middles in the league and ranked seventh in the MAAC with a .286 attack percentage in conference play last season.
Currently, joining Siebert in the middle is sophomore Jacklyn Malusa, who played on the right side and outside as a freshman. Malusa was fifth among MAAC freshmen in kills (181) last year and has shown versatility in the fall camp to be a productive option in the middle. Junior Amy Osinski has provided sparks off the bench in the middle while sophomore Gabrielle Vetere gives a different look with her 6-foot-3 frame. Freshman Samantha Zebuth is recovering from an offseason knee injury but should be able to contribute at some point in 2014.
Lauren Siebert • Junior • 29 matches, .266 attack pct., 0.77 blocks/set
"Lauren has proven herself as one of the top competitors in the middle hitter position during her first two years, and we expect the same this year. She’s in the top spot in the middle now and is expected to be a leader.”
Jacklyn Malusa • Sophomore • 29 matches, 1.89 kills/set
“Jackie was on the right side last year and is going to be a contributor in the middle position for us this season. She’s played in the middle in club and high school. With the absence of a senior on our team in the middle, it’s going to take a couple of people to get that job done, and right now, Jackie’s at the head of the pack.
Amy Osinski • Junior • 13 matches, 1.25 kills/set, 0.96 blocks/set
“Amy is another person who will be called upon to take care of the middle position with some possible help on the right side.”
Gabrielle Vetere • Sophomore • 11 matches, 0.43 blocks/set
“Gabby is going to provide us with a much-needed right side block and needs to be ready when we call upon her.”
Samantha Zebuth • Freshman
“We are anxious to get Sam back on the court after she completes her rehab. Once that happens, we will have a full compliment at the middle position.”
Senior Emily Litwin
Returning for her second year as the starting libero is senior Emily Litwin, who earned All-MAAC Second-Team honors. Litwin had 518 digs last year, which ranked sixth in the program’s single-season record book, She led the MAAC at 4.94 digs per set in conference play while being named the MAAC Libero of the Week three times.
Options in the back row along with Litwin will be junior Jordan Tylec and freshman Kristen Plukas. Tylec can be used as a serving specialist while Plukas has shown versatility on the back row and as an option at setter.
Emily Litwin • Senior • 29 matches, 4.80 digs/set, 18 service aces
“Emily is going to have a lot of responsibility in our passing and defensive game. As a senior, we need her to meet that challenge.”
Jordan Tylec • Junior • 20 matches
“It’s a role that can get overlooked, but Jordan will need to be a contributor on defense and serving for us and can be an asset in key spots.”
Kristen Plukas • Freshman
“Kristen’s going to give us added depth in the serve-and-receive part of the game and also on defense. She’s also shown the ability to continue to train as our backup setter.”
Junior Grace Streicher comes into the season as the starting setter after splitting time with Sydney Palka during the past two seasons. Streicher posted four double-doubles last season and also was the team’s most effective server. Backing up Streicher is freshman Morgan Tennant, who has been battling with Plukas for the No. 2 spot at setter in camp.
Grace Streicher • Junior • 29 matches, 4.45 assists/set
“Grace is another junior we are hoping that her skillset and maturity meet at a great height so she can run our team offensively.”
Morgan Tennant • Freshman
“Morgan is training in the setting position for us and can help this team once she adjusts to the speed of the college game.
Canisius must replace two outside hitters in Emily Elek and Jessica Warner. Junior Rachel Kline started 27 matches last year while sophomore Katlyn Tyler made 18 starts, giving Canisius a lot of experience up front. Kline was second on the team with 190 kills, had seven matches with 10-plus kills and led the team with 22 service aces in her first year as a starter. Tyler was impressive from the start of the season en route to being named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team. The 5-foot-11 outside hitter had 15 kills and 14 digs in her collegiate debut, posted 10 or more digs in nine matches and was second on the team at 2.13 kills per set.
Senior Olivia Chrzanowski provides another look off the bench as an outside hitter and also will be asked to play defensively on the back row. Freshman Kristin Bendy brings a 6-foot-2 frame to the front row and will be seen at the right side and on the outside.
Olivia Chrzanowski• Senior • 16 matches, 1.54 digs/set
“Liv is a depth player as an outside hitter, but we will find a role for her defensively where she can contribute. If she’s willing and able to accept that assignment, we have the confidence that she can do it well.”
Rachel Kline • Junior • 29 matches, 1.83 kills/set, 22 service aces, 1.97 digs/set
“Rachel’s going to get a lot of swings on the outside. With being in the program for two years, her confidence is visible every time she steps on the court.”
Katlyn Tyler • Sophomore • 20 matches, 2.13 kills/set, 2.59 digs/set
“With her one year of experience, KT comes in with a little more experience and an increased confidence that can allow her to maximize skillset.”
Kristin Bendy • Freshman
“We will look to Kristin for above net play in any and all of the hitting and blocking positions.”
Canisius will face its toughest competition of the season in the opening weekend at the Buffalo Invite where the Griffs open against Mississippi, the first opponent from the SEC in program history. Canisius also plays Lehigh and the Bulls before heading to Saint Louis and Gonzaga for the final two weekends of non-conference play.
Non-conference schedule in general is challenging and hopefully exciting. We are playing our toughest competition on the schedule during the first weekend. That’s a pretty big debut
The 18-match MAAC schedule starts on Sept. 20, at Marist and features a double round-robin format against the other nine teams in the school. Canisius hosts rival Niagara University on Oct. 4.
All 10 teams will qualify for the 2014 MAAC Championship, which will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Nov. 18-20.