PROVIDENCE, RI – In its first five-set match of the season, the young Johnson & Wales University men's volleyball team learned it takes a little bit more to win the tight matches. The Wildcats dropped 3-2 decision (25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 25-27, 17-15) to Endicott on Saturday in the second day of the JWU Tip Off Tournament.
Johnson & Wales: 2-5
Johnson & Wales not only fought back from a 2-1 deficit in the match, but was also facing two match points in the fourth set before it forced the deciding stanza. In the fifth set, the Wildcats had a 14-12 advantage but committed three errors down the stretch that gave Endicott the match.
A kill from Brendan Baker (Providence, RI) then an EC error tied the fourth set at 24-24. Another Gulls error and a kill from Cameron Ponce (San Jose, Calif.) completed the turnaround. The Wildcats appeared to be on their way to completing the comeback in the fifth set when Baker's 13 kill of the match put the hosts up 14-12. Unfortunately, a ball handling error and two attack errors by JWU helped the Gulls finish the match on a 5-1 run.
Johnson & Wales outplayed Endicott on defense with an 82-to-73 advantage in digs and a slight 11-to-10 edge in blocks. The 82 digs are the most in the last five seasons. Leading the way defensively was rookie Alex Seda (San Juan, PR) with a season-high 18 digs. Freshman Donovan Kelley (Encinitas, Calif.) topped the squad with six blocks, followed by Baker at five.
For the first time this year, Johnson & Wales had a player record a triple double as Ponce produced season highs of 39 assists, 16 digs and 10 kills. The rookie setter has had at least a double-double in three of his last four matches.
Tying for the team-high with 13 kills was Baker and outside hitter Ryan Kennedy (West Barnstable, Mass.). Baker notched his first double-double of the season with a season-high 10 digs.
It was feast or famine for JWU serving. The Wildcats had 10 aces, but also committed 17 errors. Both are season highs. Kelley and Ponce each had three aces.