PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The second-seeded Simmons College women's volleyball team was defeated by top-seeded nationally-ranked number 10 Johnson & Wales University, 3-0 (25-17, 25-9, 25-6), this afternoon in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship at the Wildcat Center in Providence, R.I. The Sharks' 12-match win streak comes to an end and they fall to 21-10 on the year, while the Wildcats win their third straight GNAC crown and remain undefeated at a perfect 32-0.
Johnson & Wales got stronger as the match went on, hitting .429 for the day, including .308, .467 and .591 in each of the sets.
Sophomore Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz.) was named to the All-Tournament team for Simmons and led the Sharks with five kills and seven digs to go with a block assist, while junior middle blocker Alexandra Erk Thompson (Canton, Mass.) hit .375 for the match, put down four kills and got up for a pair of block assists. First year outside hitter Jarene Harberts (Naples, Fla.) swung for four kills and added five digs, while first year setter Faith Gray-Williams (Las Vegas, Nev.) set for 10 assists, put away a pair of kills, got down for two digs and came up with two block assists. Senior Amber Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev.) was also named to the All-Tournament team for Simmons and registered two kills, an ace and an assisted block.
Sophomore outside hitter Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) and junior Katie Leidhold (Acushnet, Mass.) were absolutely dominant for the Wildcats with Walker smashing 11 kills on a .500 hitting mark and added three digs and two blocks, while Leidhold hit .429 to power an 11-kill effort in addition to 10 digs for a double-double and three aces. Walker was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player and Leidhold was named to the All-Tournament squad. Sophomore outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) swung for eight kills on a .538 hitting percentage to go with 11 digs and sophomore setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team, setting for 32 assists, picking up six digs, putting away six kills in eight attempts to go with a pair of assisted blocks. First year libero Elyssa Nicolas (Brisbane, Calif.) scooped up 11 digs to help lead the home team's defensive effort.
A kill from Weeg and an ace from Peterson gave the Sharks the first two points of the opening set. Simmons later owned an 8-6 lead, before kills from first year outside hitter Kelly Delaney (Calais, Maine) knotted the match at 8-8 for Johnson & Wales. Weeg reclaimed the lead for the Sharks with a kill at 9-8, but the Wildcats took a 10-9 lead before Erk Thompson pulled Simmons even with a kill to make it 10-10. The Wildcats scored six of the next seven points and never looked back, taking a 16-11 margin. The Sharks later closed to within 17-14, but that was as close as they would get for the rest of the set. Johnson and Wales scored five of the frame's final six points to take a 25-17 final.
The Wildcats continued their momentum into the second set, committing just two attack errors, while hitting .467. Harberts smashed a kill for Simmons to cut an early deficit to 2-1, but Johnson and Wales reeled off 12 unanswered points, fueled by four kills from Walker and two aces and a kill from Leidhold, to take a commanding 14-1 lead. The Wildcats increased their lead to 17-2, before the Sharks put together a 5-2 burst, paced by a kill each from Weeg and Harberts, to close to within 19-7. Gray Williams later put down a kill for Simmons to make it 21-9, but Johnson & Wales scored the final four points, including a pair of kills from Leidhold, to win the set, 25-9.
The Wildcats hit a blistering .591 in the third set and held an early 7-3 lead. The home team scored nine straight points, including three aces from first year outside hitter Bella Oldham (Irvine, Calif.), to take a 16-3 cushion. Johnson & Wales maintained an 18-5 advantage, following a kill from Roberge for the Sharks, and tallied the next six points, including a pair of kills from Leidhold to give the Wildcats a 24-5 lead. Peterson swung for a kill to keep Simmons alive at 24-6, but Leidhold gave Johnson & Wales the title with a kill to make it 25-6.