PROVIDENCE, RI – A dominating blocking performance by the Johnson & Wales University men's volleyball team propelled them to the semifinals of the GNAC Tournament. The Wildcats took down Emerson 3-0 (25-16, 25-10, 25-23) on Tuesday.
Johnson & Wales: 20-14
The win was the Wildcats' 20th of the season and matched the single-season record. The 2015 edition also won 20 games. It's also the first time since 2013 that JWU has advanced to the GNAC semifinals.
The Wildcats took a 10-4 lead in the first set thanks to an Emerson error then another EC miscue opened a 21-11 JWU advantage. Senior Kyle MacKnight (East Northport, NY) ripped off seven points with his serve to put the Wildcats ahead, 17-5, in set two.
The Lions wouldn't go down without a fight as they had a 21-18 lead on a block. Kills by Kanila Chang (Orlando, Fla.) and Zach Turner evened the game at 21-21. Two Emerson service errors and a kill by Brendan Baker (Providence, RI) ended the match.
The Wildcats set the tone with their blocking as they produced a season-high 14.5 blocks. Matt LaVasseur (Salem, NH) topped all players with eight rejections while Turner and Baker factored into five stuffs. Chang led the team with 11 kills while setter Jason Rhee (Aurora, Colo.) handed out 28 assists and Alex Seda (San Juan, PR) produced 15 digs.
Leading the Lions' offensive attack was Mark Piorkowski with a match-high 15 kills. Win Kittiavatcharapong added six kills while Carl D'Aguiar notched 14 digs.
The Wildcats go on the road for the GNAC semifinals Thursday at fifth-ranked Wentworth.