PROVIDENCE, RI – Staring the end of its season in the face, the Johnson & Wales University women's volleyball team didn't blink. The top seed in the NCAA Tournament Providence Regional, the Wildcats rallied to beat the number four seed Wesleyan, 3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-13, 15-5), on Saturday
Johnson & Wales: 34-0
With the victory, Johnson & Wales improved its home-court winning streak to 41 matches, the ninth-longest streak in NCAA history. JWU is 67-1 over the last two seasons.
A Hannah Dolan (San Clemente, Calif.) block tied the first set, 22-22, but the Cardinals got two kills and a block to win the set. A Wesleyan service error knotted set two, 18-18, then JWU setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) rattled off six-straight points with her serve to even the match at one set apiece.
The two teams took turns falling apart in the third and fourth sets. Six of Wesleyan's last 10 points in set three came off JWU errors. The Cardinals returned the favor at the start of the fourth set, committing five miscues as the Wildcats jumped out to a 9-1 lead.
Neither team hit above .200 as both defenses were on point the whole night. Johnson & Wales had a season-high 100 digs while the Cardinals were right there with 80 of their own. Phia Bellizzi topped all players with 27 digs while Elyssa Nicolas (Brisbane, Calif.) and Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, NY) were next with 25 and 20, respectively.
Coniglio added 12 kills to record her eighth double-double of the year. Middle blocker Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) produced 11 kills and four blocks. Johnson & Wales had a 12-8 advantage in blocks with Dolan stuffing six shots. Frank had a 40-assist, 16-dig double-double.
Nicole Hilton and Stasie Litinsky led the Cardinals with 13 kills each. Hilton added five blocks. Madeleine Lundberg had six kills, 13 digs and four blocks.
Sunday's 2 p.m. regional finale will be rematch between Johnson & Wales and MIT. The Wildcats defeated the Engineers, 3-0, on September 29.