Virginia Beach, VA - For the second year in a row, Johnson & Wales volleyball took to the court in the final USCAA match of the season. They were seeking to defend the title they won in 2018, and had played well to get there, defeating top seeded Cincinnati-Clermont in the semi-finals. The Wildcats faced off against PSUAC champion Penn State-Fayette in the final, and fell to the Roaring Lions in four sets.
JWU fell behind by five at 17-12 in the first set, but fought their way back to tie the score at 24, before back-to-back kills by Siteri Tale pushed Fayette over the finish line. Fayette (30-3) slowly opened up an advantage in the second set, using a 5-0 run to go up 13-8. They kept the Wildcats at arms length for the remainder of the set, eventually winning 25-21.
JWU was able to get off to a faster start in the third set, going up 10-4 on the strength of two Moana Reid service aces and three Fayette errors. Fayette got within one point at 18-17, but the Wildcats ripped off 7 of the next 8 points to take the third, 25-18.
In the 4th set, Johnson & Wales turned a 7-6 deficit into a 13-7 lead with a 7-0 run keyed by two Demya Scott kills. Fayette responded immediately, tying the score at 13. The Roaring Lions inched ahead by two at 19-17, before JWU scored 4 of 5 points to move ahead 21-20. Fayette closed out the match, and the championship with five of the final eight points, winning 25-23.
"Winning a championship is hard. Defending one is even harder. Our team played hard and worked to stay together against a tough opponent. This game felt like a championship should feel, and we are honored to have had the chance to play for the title again this season." commented Head Coach Callie Phillips after the match.
Iyana Favor and Taylor Walker led JWU with 10 kills each in the match. Moana Reid had 35 assists, 3 service aces, and was one of five Wildcats to register double-digit digs, with 19. The others were Demya Scott (19), Riley Oros (16), Toniya Scott (14), and Lynasia Felder (13).
The season did not end as the Wildcats would have hoped, but there is still much to celebrate. The 22 wins are second most in a single season for Johnson & Wales, while the .710 winning percentage is the highest in the ten year history of the program.