MEDFORD, Mass. – A third-set rally sparked the Johnson & Wales University women's volleyball team to its third NCAA Tournament Regional final in as many years. The third-seeded Wildcats took down the No. 2 seed Babson College, 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23).
#16 Babson: 33-2
#21 Johnson & Wales: 29-4
Johnson & Wales will take on the winner of the Tufts-Bowdoin match Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Beavers pulled within 20-18 in the first set, but the Wildcats ended the opening frame on a 5-0 run that included a pair of blocks by Kate Walker and Maria Coniglio. Set two went back-and-forth with Babson getting a kill and JWU attack error to close it out.
Johnson & Wales dug itself a 10-3 hole in the third set, but fought back to take the lead, 14-13, on a Brylee Frank ace. Babson regained the lead 20-16, but two Mikayla Arimura aces and back-to-back kills from Walker and Frank swung the set to JWU, 22-20.
Neither team led by more than two points in the fourth set until a Babson hitting error put the Wildcats up 20-17. The Beavers staved off two match points until a Coniglio kill ended the match.
Defense was the difference as the Wildcats had an 87-79 advantage in digs. Four different players had 10 or more digs, led by 24 from Elyssa Nicolas while Frank had a career-high 21 digs.
Leading the offensive charge was Walker with a match-high 17 kills to go along with five blocks. Coniglio produced a 12-kill, 12-dig double-double and Hannah Dolan notched 13 kills.