PROVIDENCE, RI – All season long, the Johnson & Wales University women's volleyball team has been a dominant force in the GNAC. Saturday the 10th-ranked Wildcats were nearly unstoppable as they defeated Simmons, 3-0 (25-17, 25-9, 25-6), to capture their third-straight conference championship.
Johnson & Wales: 32-0
Johnson & Wales improved the tenth-best home court winning streak in NCAA history to 39 matches. JWU is one shy of tying Bowdoin for the number nine spot. The Wildcats are 65-1 over the last two seasons.
A kill by the Sharks' Allie Erk Thompson tied the first set at 10-10, but the Wildcats finished on a 15-7 run. Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) had a trio of kills during the run. JWU put the second set out of reach early, jumping out to a 14-1 lead. Katie Leidhold (Acushnet, Mass.) staked the Wildcats to their lead by serving 11-straight points. JWU used a 15-2 run at the start of the third set to put the match away. The Wildcats had four aces – three by Bella Oldham (Irvine, Cailf.) - during that stretch.
As they've done all season, the Wildcats were strong offensively and defensively. Thanks to setter Brylee Frank's (Palm City, Fla.) 32 assists, the top hitting team in the country had a .429 rate – including .591 in the third set – while holding the Sharks to .045. JWU also had a 48-29 margin for digs.
Six different players had five or more kills, led by 11 from the Tournament MVP Walker and All-Tournament selection Leidhold. Outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, NY) was next with eight.
Leidhold added 11 digs for the double-double and was one of three Wildcats to post double-digit digs. Libero Elyssa Nicolas (Brisbane, Calif.) and Coniglio tied for the match-high with 11 digs.
Simmons was led by outside hitter Morgan Weeg, who produced five kills and seven digs. Thompson added four winners and a pair of blocks.
Johnson & Wales now waits to find out who it will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The selection show is Monday at 12:30 p.m.