PROVIDENCE, R.I. – No. 21 Johnson & Wales women's volleyball (27-4) is heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year following a 3-0 victory over Rivier University (24-8) on Saturday afternoon. It is the Wildcats, conference-best, 10th championship and sixth time defeating the Raiders for the GNAC trophy.
Kate Walker (JWU) – 14 Kills, .700 Att.%, 3 Total Blocks (2 BA, 1 BS)
Kelly Delaney (JWU) – 10 Kills, .588 Att.%, 9 Digs
Brylee Frank (JWU) – 32 Assists, 6 Digs, 5 Kills
Sydney Racevicius (Rivier) – 8 Kills, 6 Digs
Avery Pollard (Rivier) – 18 Assists
Improving to 10-6 in the GNAC title match, senior middle blocker Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) was a force throughout the 2019 tournament. The northern California native was named the championship tournament MVP registering a 34 kills on 48 attempts with zero errors for a staggering .708 attack percentage in addition to tallying 11 total blocks. Fellow seniors, setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) and outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) also earned All-Tournament Team recognition.
Walker and the Wildcats set the tone of the title match early, jumping out to a 6-1 run before Raider coach Craig Kolek called his first timeout. During the opening stretch, Walker dominated the net, tallying three kills and going up for a block with junior outside Kelly Delaney (Calais, Maine).
Rivier chipped away at the lead, pulling to within four points of Johnson & Wales midway through the set. However, the Wildcats answered and took advantage of a Raider mistakes to go on a 7-0 run to take commanding 18-7 lead before taking the first set, 25-10.
The Wildcat offense carried its momentum into the second set. Opening the set with a kill, Walker capped off a 7-0 with another kill and never looked back. Back-to-back kills by Coniglio gave Johnson & Wales a 10-point cushion before sophomore outside hitter Tiah Scott (Medford, Mass.) sealed the 25-11 win to take a two-match advantage.
Posting a .448 attack percentage as a team in the third set, Johnson & Wales looked to put the match away, but Rivier was not going away that quietly. The Raiders kept pace with the Wildcats early on, matching them point-for-point until the Wildcats began to pull away with Johnson & Wales in front, 13-12.
Coniglio ignited a mini 5-1 run with kill to give the Wildcats some breathing room and extend the lead to five. Leading by five Walker closed out the match sparking a 6-1 string with her 14th kill to give Johnson & Wales its 10th conference title.
Earning the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, No. 21 Johnson & Wales waits until the NCAA Division III women's volleyball selection show on Monday, November 11 at 12:30 p.m. to find out where they will be heading and who they will be playing