PROVIDENCE, RI – Over the last 10 years, Johnson & Wales University and Rivier University have been the preeminent women's volleyball programs in the GNAC. The two school have played a number of epic matches and Wednesday was another one for the ages. In a rematch of last year's championship match, the Wildcats came out on top 3-1 (25-19 25-22, 27-29, 28-26) on Wednesday.
Rivier: 11-1, 0-1 GNAC
Johnson & Wales: 11-0, 3-0 GNAC
Maria Coniglio (JWU): 24 Kills, 13 Digs
Elizabeth Hamilton (JWU): 14 Kills, 12 Digs
Brylee Frank (JWU): 54 Assists, 15 Digs, 5 Kills
Dana Mott (RU): 16 Kills, 3 Blocks, .354 Hitting%
JWU had its streak of 32-straight sets won snapped when the Raiders took the third set, but the Wildcats almost pulled off an amazing comeback. Rivier was up 24-18 before Elizabeth Hamilton (Canton, Mass.) served six-straight points to tie the match. The Wildcats had match point, 26-25, but a pair of JWU errors sent it to a fourth set.
Once again in the fourth set the Raiders had three set points, but couldn't put the Wildcats away as a Hamilton kill and two RU errors tied the stanza, 24-24. Rivier had another set point, 26-25, but this time it was the visitor's turn to falter down the stretch as they committed three-straight errors to give JWU the set and the match.
While Johnson & Wales defeated Rivier for the second match in a row, the victory was JWU's first regular season win over the Raiders since 2010. The Wildcats did not win a set against Rivier during RU's five-match winning streak.
Freshman outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, NY) put together one of the best performances in recent history as she had her first double-double with 24 kills and 13 digs. The 24 kills are the second most in JWU history during a four-set match and fourth on the GNAC charts. Hamilton also had her first double-double with a season-high 14 kills and 12 digs.
Four Wildcats recorded double-digit digs, led by Gianna Esposito's (Larkspur, Calif.) match-high 24 digs. Also recording a double-double was freshman setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) with 54 assists and 15 digs. JWU out-dug Rivier, 74-60, with the visitors holding a slight 8-7 blocking margin.
More than three-quarters of Rivier's kills came from three players. Dana Mott led the team with 16 winners while Lauren Silverman had 11 kills and five blocks. Setter Hayley Macken chipped in 40 assists and 12 digs.
Johnson & Wales is back at home on Saturday when it hosts Regis at 10 a.m. followed by Connecticut College at 2 p.m.