PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Simmons University women's volleyball team was defeated in three sets by number 15 Johnson & Wales University, 25-22, 25-22, 25-20, this evening in Great Northeast Athletic Conference action at the Wildcat Center in Providence, R.I. The Sharks win streak comes to an end at three straight as they fall to 9-5 overall and suffer their first conference loss to dip to 3-1. The Wildcats, who are ranked nationally by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, improve to 12-3 and a perfect 3-0 in the GNAC.
Johnson & Wales was extremely consistent on the attack, owning a hitting percentage of at least .222 in all three sets.
First year outside hitter Sydney Iannantuono (East Lyme, Conn.) led Simmons with eight kills and 13 digs, while junior outside hitter Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz.) also put down eight kills to go with six digs and a block solo. Junior middle blocker Megan Purser (Miami, Fla.) contributed with seven kills and two block assists and sophomore middle blocker Krissy Lloyd (Tampa, Fla.) hit .312 to fuel a six-kill effort in addition to a block assist. Junior setter Faith Gray-Williams (Las Vegas, Nev.) directed the offense with 30 assists, fired two aces and picked up six digs. First year defensive specialist Gabriela Hernandez (San Francisco, Calif.) got down for nine digs and served for two aces.
Senior middle blocker Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) led all players with 14 kills on a .462 hitting mark and got up for four total blocks, while classmate Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) swung for 13 kills and added 12 digs to post her sixth double-double of the year. Senior setter Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) recorded 40 assists, put down six kills on a .556 hitting mark, picked up seven digs and got up for two block assists. Junior libero Elyssa Nicolas (San Francisco, Calif.) got down for a game-high 18 digs and served for an ace.
Simmons looked strong out of the gate in first set, taking a 5-2 lead, however Johnson & Wales responded. Sophomore middle blocker Elisabeth Elbrecht (Owings, Md.) ignited a 5-0 run to take an 8-5 lead and appear to take control of the match.
Building a four-point, 14-10, lead the Sharks began to chip away at the deficit. Weeg sparked a 5-0 of run of to tie the set a 15-15 and force the Wildcats to call its first timeout of the set.
Coming out of the timeout, the Wildcats re-gained the a two-point lead, but the Sharks were not going away quietly. With three ties in the final moments of the first set, the teams battled back-and-forth before Walker and sophomore outside hitter Tiah Scott (Medford, Mass.) sealed the 25-22 set win with a block.
For the second straight set, the Sharks jumped out of the gate with a 5-3 lead, but the Wildcats soon mounted a comeback with a 5-1 run to take an 8-6 advantage. Similar to the first set, Simmons continued to stay close, pulling to within one point twice on kills by Lloyd.
However, with a 9-8 lead Johnson & Wales began to pull away going on a 4-1 run, sparked by a Sharks miscue on the serve. During the run Congilio notched a pair of kills, the second of which forced Simmons to call its first timeout of the set with the Wildcats in front, 13-9.
Following the time out, the Wildcats extended its lead to 14-9 and never looked back, taking the second set, 25-22.
Hitting .364 early in game three, Simmons utilized 8-0 run, sparked by Iannantuono to build a 14-6 lead. Johnson & Wales flipped the switch and responded with a 6-0 run of its own, to claw its way back to within two points and force Simmons to call a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Lloyd and Purser went up for a block assist to give the Sharks a 15-12 lead, which they held until the closing moments of the match. Trailing by a pair, 20-18, late in the set, Frank ignited a 7-0 run with a kill before sealing the match with a pair of kills.
Simmons returns to action on Saturday, October 5 when it travels to West Hartford, Conn. to take on University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) for a 1:00 p.m. GNAC contest, while Johnson & Wales heads to Beverly, Mass. tomorrow night to take on Endicott College at 6:00 p.m.