PROVIDENCE, RI – It took the Johnson & Wales University men's volleyball team a set to get going, but once it did the Wildcats were in complete control. The Wildcats picked up a key conference victory as they defeated Emerson 3-1 (24-26, 25-11, 25-18, 25-20) on Tuesday.
Emerson: 9-9, 3-5 GNAC
Johnson & Wales: 16-13, 5-5 GNAC
Errors plagued the Wildcats in the first set as they committed 14 miscues that allowed Emerson to take the first set, 26-24. JWU cleaned up the errors in the second set as it jumped out to an 8-2 lead on its way to winning the second frame, 25-11. Another fast start propelled the Wildcats to win the third set, 25-18. The Lions didn't go down without a fight in the fourth set as they got within 15-13, but JWU pulled away to win the set and the match.
Running the JWU offense was setter Cameron Ponce (San Jose, Calif.) as he posted a 45-assist, 18-dig double-double. Three Wildcats reached double-digit kills, topped by Kanila Chang's (Orlando, Fla.) game-high 14 winners. Kyle MacKnight (East Northport, NY) was next with 13 and Donovan Kelley (Encinitas, Calif.) added 11.
A big reason for JWU's improvement in the final three sets was its defense. The Wildcats had a 55-30 advantage in digs as well as 6-3 margin for blocks. That translated into a .396 hitting percentage – the fourth-best rate of the year – while the Lions were held to .126.
Leading the Emerson attack was Win Kittivatcharpong and Mark Piorkowski as they each had a team-high nine kills. Carl D'Aguuiar produced 14 digs and setter Nick Rusk dished out 34 assists.
The Wildcats go on the road to take on Albertus Magnus next Tuesday at 7 p.m.