PROVIDENCE, RI – If Johnson & Wales University men's volleyball coach Scott Reslow wants to get a good gauge of his team, he'll get it during the season opener. The Wildcats will start the 2019 campaign Friday against top-ranked and defending national champion Springfield College as part of the JWU Tip-Off Tournament.
The hosts open the tournament at 4 p.m. against the Pride. Following that match, they'll take on Baruch at 8 p.m. The tournament wraps up Saturday with a 10 a.m. match against Alvernia.
Starting his 11th season at the helm of the Wildcats, Reslow may have the deepest team of his tenure. The Wildcats bring back five starters plus several other players who saw quality time on the floor.
The 2018 campaign ended for the Wildcats in the GNAC Tournament semifinals and the league coaches think JWU should have another shot of advancing to the championship match. JWU was picked third in the preseason poll with 49 points, finishing just two points back of Wentworth. Defending champion Rivier received all eight first-place votes.
Back for his senior year is Cameron Ponce. A three-time All-GNAC selection, including First-Team a year ago, Ponce could split time on one of the pins in addition to his setting duties. Second in the NCAA with a pair of triple-doubles in 2018, the San Jose, Calif. native was the only player in the GNAC ranked in the top 10 for assists, digs and blocks.
Also back for his final season is First-Team All-GNAC Libero Alex Seda. He finished the year ranked fifth in the conference at 2.64 digs per set, a rate that increased to 2.83 against GNAC teams. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native recorded 12 double-digit dig games.
Six of the top-eight point scorers from a year ago are back, headed up by Sanjae Holloway who led the team in points (246.5) and kills (212). Middle blocker Donovan Kelley led the team on the defensive end with 0.83 blocks per set.
As always Reslow has put together a schedule that will challenge the Wildcats. On February 9 they'll take on #15 Vassar in the Brewers' home tournament. JWU has a rematch with Springfield on February 12 before taking on #14 Endicott during the JWU Invitational on February 16. JWU will make a trip out to the West Coast for the Cal Lutheran Tournament, March 8-9, where they will face UC Santa Cruz, who is receiving votes nationally, and the No. 8 Kingsmen.
GNAC play begins February 6 when the Wildcats face Regis then make the trip to Colby-Sawyer on February 19 to take on the newest member of the GNAC. JWU will get tested on March 16 when it takes on both Rivier and Wentworth.