JWU opened their California adventure with a contest at upstart UC-Merced on Friday night. After a fairly even start in the first set the host Bobcats started to find some momentum that allowed them to take a 12-6 lead. After finding themselves down 15-8, the Wildcats strung together six straight points with Ty Coutts (Colorado Springs, Colo.) serving to pull to within one. The two sides traded points for the rest of the set as the Bobcats held on for the 25-23 win.
In the second set, the Wildcats went up 8-4 on UC Merced before the Bobcats rallied to pull to within one. Merced took a 15-14 lead off a Wildcat service error. Despite opening up the early lead, the 'Cats surrendered the lead as UC Merced came back to take the second set 25-20.
In the third set. neither team made much of a run at the beginning but the Bobcats broke up a 12-12 tie to go up 19-12 on Johnson & Wales. JWU tried to fight their way back in but their late rally wasn't enough to make up the deficit dropping the final set 18-25.
Francis Berrios-Hernandez (Carolina, Puerto Rico) led the Wildcats with 12 kills and a .550 attacking percentage. Josh Buted (Honolulu, Hawaii) had a team high 19 assists for JWU in the loss. Weston Buker (Ventura, Calif.) and Chase Squires (Clarence Center, N.Y.) each had eight digs for Johnson & Wales. Daniel Sabzezhar had 11 kills for the Bobcats and Scott Livesay had 11 digs.
Johnson & Wales (0-5) will play a National Divsion match against Hope International (2-2) on a neutral court on Saturday after playing NCAA Division II Holy Names University (0-3).