MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – In a thrilling non-conference volleyball matchup against two of the top teams in the New England region, No. 14 Johnson & Wales University prevailed over Wesleyan University 3-1 by scores of 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19. Thursday night's match was the first-ever meeting between husband and wife head coaches Ben and Nancy Somera.
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 16-3 overall while the Wildcats continue their undefeated season and improve to 24-0 overall.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Wesleyan began the first set by rattling off four unanswered points starting with a kill by Stasie Litinsky '20 off an assist from Kaira Muraoka-Robertson '20. The Cardinals continued to hold their lead until the Wildcats tied it at 10-10. The rest of the set went back-and-forth until the visitors pulled ahead to take the set by five points, sealing their victory with a service ace from Brylee Frank.
- Johnson & Wales led early in the second set, but Wesleyan wasted no time catching up. The Cardinals eventually took a 19-13 lead following a 4-0 run, and never looked back. Despite a late rally from the Wildcats, in which they got within one (24-23), Litinsky put the game away with another kill from Muraoka-Robertson to even the match at 1-1.
- Though Johnson & Wales held a lead for most of the third set, Wesleyan was not far behind. The Cardinals would tie the match at 12-12, but five consecutive points by the Wildcats gave the visitors the lead for good. They scored four of the final five points to win the set, 25-20, and take a 2-1 advantage in the match.
- In the fourth and final set, Johnson & Wales jumped out to a commanding 8-1 lead. The visitors led the entire way and a block assist by Kate Walker and Frank put the match away, 25-19.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Nicole Hilton '20 and Graves led the Cardinals with 13 kills each, while Hilton recorded an impressive .478 hitting percentage. Graves added 10 digs as well to complete the double-double. Litinsky and Gabby Bennett '20 tallied nine and eight kills, respectively, and Muaroka-Robertson dished out a match-high 36 assists.
- Phia Bellizzi '21 led the defensive efforts with 15 digs, while Bennett posted a team-high three blocks (one solo, two assists).
- Two Wildcats scored double-digit kills, Maria Coniglio with a match-high 20 and Katie Leidhold with 14, while Frank recorded 31 assists. Elyssa Nicolas led the defense with a match-high 17 digs, closely followed by her teammates Monica Cordova and Leidhold who both totaled 13.
- This Saturday, October 21st, the Cardinals will compete in the Wid Guisler Invitational against No. 19 Juniata College (12 p.m.) and Susquehanna University (4:00 p.m.) in Juniata's Kennedy Sports and Recreation Center in Huntingdon, Pa.