PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The number four seed Simmons College women's volleyball team was defeated by host number one seed Johnson & Wales University, 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-15) this evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals at the Wildcat Center in Providence, R.I. The Sharks end their season with a 12-12 mark, while the Wildcats improve to a perfect 32-0 and advance to the GNAC Championship match.
Johnson & Wales will host number two seed Rivier University, a 3-0 winner over third-seeded Anna Maria College, on November 5 at 1:00 p.m.
The Wildcats, who lead the nation in hitting percentage, registered a .288 hitting mark for the match, including .312 and .316 in the second and third sets, respectively.
First year outside hitter Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz.) led Simmons with her 15th double-double of the season on 13 kills and 10 digs to go with a solo block, while junior rightside hitter Amber Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev.) contributed with four kills on a .308 hitting percentage and added two digs. Senior libero Alex Itasaka (Bradford, Mass.) finished with 15 digs to lead the Sharks' defensive effort and first year setter Kenna McCarthy (Shelter Island, N.Y.) set for 19 assists, fired two aces and picked up five digs. Senior outside hitter Kat Guillotte (New Bedford, Mass.) closed out her career with 10 digs, two kills and a pair of aces.
First year outside hitter Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) posted a double-double for Johnson & Wales with 10 kills and 15 digs to go with two aces and two block assists. First year middle blocker Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) hit a blistering .600 for the match with nine kills in 15 attempts and no errors in addition to three block assists, while sophomore middle hitter Emily Kalmink (Byron Center, Mich.) swung for nine kills on a .381 hitting stroke and added four digs and four block assists. First year setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) put up 30 assists to go with nine digs and first year libero Gianna Esposito (Larkspur, Calif.) picked up 15 digs.
The Wildcats opened with a 5-2 lead in the first set, but the Sharks stayed trailed by no more than two points over the next 25 points of the match, which saw both teams tied three times, including a 13-13 draw. Johnson & Wales began to pull away with a 10-3 run, led by a pair of kills each from first year outside hitter Elizabeth Hamilton (Canton, Mass.) and Coniglio to give the home team a 23-16 cushion. The Wildcats later maintained a 24-18 margin, but Simmons made one last charge with three unanswered points, including a block by first year middle blocker Allie Erk Thompson (Canton, Mass.) and McCarthy to pull the Sharks to within 24-21. A Simmons service error gave Johnson & Wales the set's deciding point and a 1-0 match lead.
The Sharks took an early 3-1 lead in the second stanza and later owned a 7-6 edge, but Johnson & Wales reeled off four straight points, including a pair of kills from Walker, to take a 10-7 lead. Simmons later closed to within 11-9, but the Wildcats ripped off seven unanswered points on Frank's serve, to take an 18-9 advantage. Johnson & Wales took its largest lead of the set at 23-11 following a kill by Walker, before coming away with a 25-15 set win and a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks scored three of the first four points again in the third set and owned four leads during the first 26 points of play, which also saw 10 ties between the two teams. Simmons owned an 11-9 lead midway through the frame, but the Wildcats scored the next four points, before Weeg put down a kill to knot the count at 13-13. It would be as close as the Sharks would get as Johnson & Wales closed out the match with a 12-2 run to make the final, 25-15. The stretch was fueled by three kills from Walker and two from senior middle hitter Starsha Tunstall (East Providence, R.I.).
Guillotte finishes her career with Simmons with 229 kills, 113 aces and 1154 digs in 111 matches, while Itasaka walks away with 1467 digs and 91 aces in 114 career contests. Senior middle blocker Abby Hart (Westfield, Mass.) closes her career with 587 kills on a .171 hitting mark, while adding 214 total blocks and 42 aces in 111 matches. Senior Andalyn Duke (Litchfield Park, Ariz.) ends her career with 2007 assists, 98 aces and 633 digs in 104 matches.