MEDFORD, Mass.– Cousens Gym at Tufts University is unfriendly to Johnson & Wales University. In March the men's basketball team had its magical Sweet 16 run ended there. On Friday, the historical season for the women's volleyball team came to an end. The Wildcats lost for the first time this year, 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-20) to UMass Boston in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Johnson & Wales: 33-1
UMass Boston: 29-4
Going into the match, Johnson & Wales was the last undefeated volleyball team in the country. The 33 victories are the most in school and conference history.
For the first time this season, the Wildcats faced a team that could play as well on defense as them. UMass Boston had the advantage in blocks (11-10) and digs (56-51).
The Beacons set the tone early in the match with four blocks in the first set. Johnson & Wales was held to a season-low .104 hitting percentage, but the Wildcats did their part to hold UMB to .202.
Leading the way offensively was freshman outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, NY) with a team-high 13 kills. Playing in her last collegiate match, senior Starsha Tunstall (East Providence, RI) was next at seven kills.
Setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) had a double-double with 10 digs and a match-high 24 assists. Freshman libero Gianna Esposito (Larkspur, Calif.) had a team-best 14 digs and classmate Elizabeth Hamilton (Canton, Mass.) was next at 11 digs.
The 2017 campaign should be another banner one for the Wildcats. Johnson & Wales returns all six of its starters – including AVCA All-New England Region selections Frank and Coniglio.