GNAC Quarterfinal Preview: #8 Saint Joseph's @ #1 Johnson & Wales

GNAC Quarterfinal Preview: #8 Saint Joseph's @ #1 Johnson & Wales

STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Johnson & Wales University (28-1, 12-0 GNAC) will host #8 Saint Joseph's (10-17, 5-7 GNAC) Tuesday, October 30th at 7:30 PM in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Volleyball Tournament Quarterfinal matchup.

Tonight's winner will advance to the GNAC semifinal round to face the victor of #4 Lasell College (13-18, 8-4 GNAC) and #5 Simmons University (14-14, 7-5 GNAC), two teams that also play tonight at 7:00 PM.

The conference championship game will be played on Saturday, November 3rd. The higher seeded team hosts throughout tourney play and the GNAC Champion earns an automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA DIII Women's Volleyball Championship, which begins on November 9th.

HEADING INTO THE TOURNAMENT:

Saint Joseph's is entering the tournament after a tri-match split with Suffolk and Johnson & Wales. Needing a win to earn a berth into the conference tourney, the Monks opened with a 3-1 triumph over the Rams before falling to the Wildcats by a 3-0 score.

The Monks have a record of 5-5 in their last 10 games, including a 3-3 mark in GNAC play with wins over Anna Maria (3-0), Albertus Magnus (3-0) and Suffolk (3-1).

Johnson & Wales has had a great end to their season with a record of 10-0, winning 28 straight. In the last 10 games for the Wildcats, they have won 30 sets with just one set loss -  a 25-20 setback to Kean University (Oct. 26).

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Saint Joseph's:

  • Junior Kelsey Bickford (Somersworth, N.H.) leads the Monks in points (294.5), kills (250) and total attack attempts (865), second in attack percentage (.143) second in service aces (34) and block assists (15), and fifth in digs (149)
  • Senior libero Jennelle Thompson (Rochester, N.H.) tops Saint Joseph's and the GNAC in digs (513) and digs per set (5.64) and is sixth on the team with 15 aces
  • Sophomore Erin Olson (Stoughton, Mass.) paces the Royal Blue in attack percentage (.178), blocks (30), and block assists (35) and ranks second in kills (169) total attack attempts (473), points per set (2.4) and total points (229.5), and third in kills per set (1.76)

Johnson & Wales:

  • Junior MB Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) leads the Wildcats and conference in hitting percentage (.417), first in kills per set (3.20 – 4th GNAC) and kills (259), and third in total attack attempts (523).
  • Junior OH Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) is second the Wildcats and ninth in the conference in kills (251), third on the team in digs (225), second on the team and fifth in the conference in kills per set (3.10), and eight in conference in hitting percentage (.262).
  • Sophomore DS Elyssa Nicolas (San Francisco, Calif.) leads the Wildcats and is third in the conference in digs (438), second in the conference in digs per set (4.81).

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Monks first-year coach Jon Roberts has lead the team to another tournament birth with a 10-17 record in his first season and a 5-7 record in the GNAC.

Wildcats coach Nancy Somera is in her fifth season with the Wildcats, leading them to the number two rank in the nation and the conference tournament's first overall seed. She has accumulated a record of 136-27 in her time as head coach for JWU.

THE LAST TIME WE MET:

The Wildcats handled the Monks in straight sets: 25-11, 25-12, 25-10 on October 27th in Providence. Olson led the Monks with four kills, while Walker led the Wildcats with 13 kills.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING:

The Monks are 1-15 in past meeting against the Wildcats, with their lone victory coming in 2011. The Wildcats have not dropped a set to the Monks since 2012.

POSTSEASON HISTORY:

The Monks have made the conference tournament seven out of the last nine years with trips to the postseason in each of the last four seasons. The Monks are looking to advance to the Semifinals for the first time since 2015.

For the Wildcats, they have reached the conference final each of the last four seasons, having won the title each of the last three seasons and advancing the NCAA tournament. Last season the Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight before falling at the hands of Calvin College in straight sets.

 

#GOMONKS

 

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Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.