The Wildcats closed out a busy weekend at home with a 3-1 victory over visiting UC Merced on Sunday afternoon. In an earlier matchup, the Bobcats earned the 3-0 win in a close contest between the two sides.
The 'Cats opened the first set with four straight points to set the mood of the Wildcat Center. With the crowd behind them Johnson & Wales rattled off a 13-6 run to extend their lead to 17-6 as the Bobcats fought to stop JWU. UC Merced started to pick up the points late but JWU had built enough of a lead to take the opener 25-15.
The Bobcats seemed to have regained their form in the second set as the challenged the Wildcats early. JWU started to pick up their momentum midway through the set as they went on a 6-0 run behind the serving of Francis Berrios-Hernandez (Carolina, Puerto Rico). UC Merced couldn't come back from the scoring run as JWU took the second set 25-16.
The third set had the Bobcats turn the table on JWU and jump out front 16-10. From that point the teams traded points before UC Merced put it away 25-22. The fourth set had the Bobcats with the edge early leading by as much as four at 12-8. JWU pulled to within a point but UC Merced again pulled ahead. The Wildcats countered with a four point run to take an 18-16 lead.
The Bobcats looked to change the momentum in the final run but after the teams traded points the 'Cats came back from down 24-23 to take the 29-27 victory.
Josh Buted (Honolulu, Hawaii) finished with 19 kills for Johnson & Wales with Weston Buker (Ventura, Calif.) adding 10. Cody Sutton (Gilbert, Ariz.) and Ty Coutts (Colorado Springs, Colo.) came up with 12 and 11 digs respectively while freshman setter Chase Squires (Clarence Center, N.Y.) finished with 41 assists. Coutts also had four blocks for JWU. Samuel Hala'ufia had 15 kills for UC Merced. Scott Livesay and Daniel Sabzezhar each had 12 digs.
Johnson & Wales will host the Alumni in an exhibition contest next Saturday, March 22 at 7:00 PM. JWU travels to Concordia University - Irvine for the National Division tournament on March 28 and 29.