WINTHROP, Mass. – A dominant season on the court translated to the Johnson & Wales University women's volleyball team bringing home a majority of the GNAC postseason awards. The Wildcats received three major awards and six All-GNAC honors.
Court boss Nancy Somera was named GNAC Coach of the Year for the third year in a row. Junior setter Brylee Frank was tabbed Player of the Year while sophomore Elyssa Nicolas claimed Libero of the Year. Frank, Nicolas, Maria Coniglio, Katie Leidhold and Kate Walker were selected First-Team All-GNAC and Hannah Dolan garnered third-team honors.
Under Somera's direction, the Wildcats continue to reach new heights. Johnson & Wales goes into this week's NCAA Tournament ranked second in the country – the highest ranking in program history. JWU started its current 31-match winning streak by beating top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for the first win over the number one team in the country by any JWU team. The Wildcats claimed their fourth-straight GNAC Championship and are hosting the NCAA regional for the second year in a row.
Frank is the first Wildcat to earn Player of the Year since newly minted JWU Hall of Famer Cathy Bravo '12 in 2010. The Palm City, Fla. native was named AVCA National Player of the Week after recording the first triple-double in program history against No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. A two-time GNAC Player of the Week, Frank is eighth in the NCAA at 11.09 assists per game. She runs the top-ranked hitting team in the country and JWU is third at 14.16 kills per set.
Last year's Libero of the Year, Nicolas matches Giselle Cram '14 as the only back-to-back Libero of the Year winners in program history. A five-time GNAC Libero of the Week, she's producing 4.81 digs per set overall and 5.43 dps versus regionally ranked teams. A native of San Francisco, Calif., Nicolas has 10 matches with 20 or more digs, topped by 27 against La Verne.
Voted GNAC Tournament MVP over the weekend, Coniglio joins Frank as the fourth and fifth players in school history to earn a trio of First-Team All-GNAC honors. Named GNAC Player of the Week on September 17, the Old Bethpage, NY native is averaging 2.98 kills, 2.72 digs and 3.4 points per set. That rate increases to 3.62 kills and 4.06 points against regionally ranked team. She notched 11 matches with 10 or more kills, including a season-high 20 against #1 CMS.
Leidhold had another good all-around season, averaging 2.84 kills, 2.48 digs and 3.4 points. She upped that rate to 2.96 kills and 2.7 digs versus GNAC schools. The Acushnet, Mass. native had five double-doubles including 15 kills and 11 digs against Coast Guard to earn her GNAC Player of the Week.
Walker continues to be one of the top hitters in the country with a .418 hitting percentage that ranks fourth in the NCAA. The GNAC Player of the Week on September 24, she averaging 3.13 kills per set and 0.80 blocks per set. A native of Oakland, Calif., she has 11 double-digit kill matches with a career-high 18 versus No. 24 Bowdoin. Walker was named to the GNAC All-Tournament team over the weekend.
Also among the national hitting leaders is Dolan who hits .349 overall and .429 against GNAC opponents. She had a season-high 12 kills against Kean as part of her four matches with 10 or more kills. The San Clemente, Calif. native has 11 multi-block contests.
Johnson & Wales opens the regional Friday against Eastern Connecticut State at 8 p.m.