BOSTON – On the last day of the regular season, the Johnson & Wales University men's volleyball team picked up some momentum for the GNAC tournament by splitting a tri-match with Lasell and Emmanuel. For the second time this season, the Wildcats took a set off the Lasers, but dropped a 3-1 decision (17-25, 15-25, 25-23, 20-25). JWU rebounded to sweep Emmanuel 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-12).
Johnson & Wales: 19-14, 8-6 GNAC
A kill by Kanila Chang (Orlando, Fla.) got the Wildcats within 12-10 in the first set against Lasell, but Tristan Davis reeled off six points with his serve to open an 18-10 margin. Donovan Kelley (Encinitas, Calif.) followed up a kill with an ace to make it 14-11 in the second frame. Unfortunately, that's as close as JWU would get the rest of the set.
The Wildcats built a 16-9 lead in the third set only to see Lasell chip away until the match was tied at 23-23. After a Lasers' error, Kelley came through with a kill to win the set. Lasell built a 24-16 lead in the fourth set and the Wildcats were able to close the gap to 24-20 before Davis ended the match with his game-high 19th kill.
JWU setter Jason Rhee (Aurora, Colo.) did a good job of diversifying the offense as four different players had seven or more kills, led by 14 from Chang. Rhee produced 31 assists to go along with six digs. Both teams had nine blocks, but the Lasers had a 46-35 advantage in digs that helped them outhit JWU .250-to-.157.
The opening set between the Wildcats and Saints was tied at 10-10 until JWU went on an 8-3 march that was capped by a Kyle MacKnight (East Northport, NY) kill. Emmanuel was within 15-13 in the second set, but a 5-1 JWU run secured the set victory. Johnson & Wales jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the final set and the margin grew to 20-10 on a Matt McCarthy (Millis, Mass.) kill.
The JWU offense was dominated by MacKnight and Chang as they produced 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Emmanuel's Erik English topped all players with 12 kills. Rhee handed out a season-high 32 assists and directed the Wildcats to a .380 hitting percentage. The Wildcats out-dug the Saints, 39-28, to hold Emmanuel to a .095 hitting rate.
Johnson & Wales hosts Emerson on Tuesday in the first round of the conference tournament at 7 p.m.