MEDFORD, Mass. – After a slow start, the Johnson & Wales University women's volleyball team found its rhythm en route to an opening-round victory in the NCAA Tournament. The third-seeded Wildcats downed the No. 6 seed Maine Maritime, 3-1 (22-25, 25-11, 25-11, 25-9), on Friday at Tufts University.
Maine Maritime: 24-4
#21 Johnson & Wales: 28-4
The victory moves the Wildcats onto the second round where they will face Babson at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Johnson & Wales dug itself a 17-10 hole in the first set. The Wildcats hit .115 in the opening stanza while the Mariners were .191. It was a different JWU team the rest of the way as the Wildcats hit .333 in sets two through four and .252 for the match. Conversely, MMA was limited to a -.018 rate in the final three sets.
Elyssa Nicolas rattled off five-straight points on her serve to change the second set from a close contest to a 10-point JWU advantage. The Wildcats built a 16-6 third-set lead on an MMA hitting error then started the final stanza on a 6-0 run.
Five different players had six or more kills, topped by Maria Coniglio who produced a 19-kill, 15-assists double-double. Also turning in a double-double was setter Brylee Frank with 33 assists and 15 digs.
JWU had the edge in digs, 76-71, thanks to a match-high 22 digs from Nicolas.