Wildcats pick up big win over Grand Canyon at Olympic Training Center
The Wildcats used a late surge to push themselves to a 3-2 (27-29, 25-16, 25-21, 23-25, 15-12) win over Grand Canyon University. The 'Lopes had gotten the best of JWU the night before in the five set thriller, but Johnson & Wales looked to rebound from the previous night.
The 'Cats were treated to a pre-match meeting with US Women's National Team coach Hugh Hugh McCutcheon and three time gold medalist Karch Kiraly. The two men encouraged the Wildcats to play with heart.
The pep talk seemed to have sunk in with JWU as they battled an equally fired up Grand Canyon squad throughout the first set. The 'Lopes got the set win 29-27, but Johnson & Wales didn't let that dampen their spirit.
The second set saw JWU come out with a commanding performance, taking the win 25-16 and a team .429 attacking percentage. The third set went much like the second with JWU walking away with a 25-21 victory.
During the fourth set, the Wildcats showed some fatigue early but shook it off to challenge the 'Lopes in Grand Canyon's 25-23 win. Just like the previous night, the two squads knew that the fifth set would be determined by who could handle themselves best when things got tought. Johnson & Wales won the set with an errant serve giving them the 15th point and match.
Chris Schardt and Komakana Fernandez had a commendable 19 and 17 kills respectively. Mike Sauro had 13 digs to lead JWU with Ryan Schroerlucke and Taylor Martin-Funk adding another 11 and 10 each. Sauro also had 40 of JWU's 46 set assists. The 'Cats also came out big with 12 blocks.
JWU will host club teams from Boise State University and the University of Colorado on February 4 and 5. They'll return to conference play in mid-February at Missouri Valley College.