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WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: JWU Rolls to Fifth Straight GNAC Title, Blanks Rivier 3-0


Courtesy of JWU Athletics Communications

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – No. 21 Johnson & Wales women's volleyball (27-4) is heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year following a 3-0 victory over Rivier University (24-8) on Saturday afternoon. It is the Wildcats, conference-best, 10th championship and sixth time defeating the Raiders for the GNAC trophy.

Kate Walker (JWU) – 14 Kills, .700 Att.%, 3 Total Blocks (2 BA, 1 BS)
Kelly Delaney (JWU) – 10 Kills, .588 Att.%, 9 Digs
Brylee Frank (JWU) – 32 Assists, 6 Digs, 5 Kills
Sydney Racevicius (Rivier) – 8 Kills, 6 Digs
Avery Pollard (Rivier) – 18 Assists 

Improving to 10-6 in the GNAC title match, senior middle blocker Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) was a force throughout the 2019 tournament. The northern California native was named the championship tournament MVP registering a 34 kills on 48 attempts with zero errors for a staggering .708 attack percentage in addition to tallying 11 total blocks. Fellow seniors, setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) and outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) also earned All-Tournament Team recognition.

Walker and the Wildcats set the tone of the title match early, jumping out to a 6-1 run before Raider coach Craig Kolek called his first timeout. During the opening stretch, Walker dominated the net, tallying three kills and going up for a block with junior outside Kelly Delaney (Calais, Maine).

Rivier chipped away at the lead, pulling to within four points of Johnson & Wales midway through the set. However, the Wildcats answered and took advantage of a Raider mistakes to go on a 7-0 run to take commanding 18-7 lead before taking the first set, 25-10.

The Wildcat offense carried its momentum into the second set. Opening the set with a kill, Walker capped off a 7-0 with another kill and never looked back. Back-to-back kills by Coniglio gave Johnson & Wales a 10-point cushion before sophomore outside hitter Tiah Scott (Medford, Mass.) sealed the 25-11 win to take a two-match advantage.

Posting a .448 attack percentage as a team in the third set, Johnson & Wales looked to put the match away, but Rivier was not going away that quietly. The Raiders kept pace with the Wildcats early on, matching them point-for-point until the Wildcats began to pull away with Johnson & Wales in front, 13-12.

Coniglio ignited a mini 5-1 run with kill to give the Wildcats some breathing room and extend the lead to five. Leading by five Walker closed out the match sparking a 6-1 string with her 14th kill to give Johnson & Wales its 10th conference title.

Earning the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, No. 21 Johnson & Wales waits until the NCAA Division III women's volleyball selection show on Monday, November 11 at 12:30 p.m. to find out where they will be heading and who they will be playing.

Maria Coniglio, JWU
Brylee Frank, JWU
Kate Walker, JWU (MVP)
Sydney Racevicius, Rivier
Jess Whyte, Rivier
Morgan Weeg, Simmons
Stephanie Rheaume, Suffolk