PROVIDENCE, RI – The pursuit of perfection continued on Thursday night for the Johnson & Wales University women's volleyball team. The Wildcats stayed undefeated and advanced to the finals of the GNAC Tournament with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-15) victory over Simmons.
Johnson & Wales: 32-0
Johnson & Wales, the NCAA all-division leader with 32 wins, continued its consecutive sets-won streak. JWU ran its streak to 64-straight sets won, dating back to September 21.
The feisty Sharks gave the Wildcats a run for their money with aggressive serves and solid defense. Simmons had five service aces, but also committed 10 service errors. Simmons' attackers struggled to hit around the No. 15 blocking team in the country. JWU had an 8-3 advantage in blocks as well as a 65-51 margin in digs.
The Wildcats took a 16-12 lead in set one on a Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, NY) ace and appeared to have it in hand at 24-15 on a Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) kill. The Sharks fought back to within 24-21 but a service error gave JWU the first set. Simmons closed to within 11-9 in the second set before Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) went on a 7-0 run to put the set out of reach. Simmons' Morgan Weeg – who had a match-high 13 kills – tied the third set at 13-13, but the Wildcats ended the match on a 12-2 run.
Coniglio was one of three Wildcats with nine or more kills as she recorded 10 winners and added 15 digs for a double-double. Middle blockers Emily Kalmink (Byron City, Mich.) and Walker had nine kills apiece. Kalmink added a match-high four blocks. Frank posted 30 assists and libero Gianna Esposito (Larkspur, Calif.) notched a match-high 18 digs.
Weeg had more than 50 percent of Simmons' kills and added 10 digs. Setter Kenna McCarthy posted 15 assists while libero Alex Itasaka produced a team-best 15 digs.
Johnson & Wales plays host to Rivier in Saturday's final at 1 p.m. The Wildcats topped the Raiders, 3-1, on September 21.