The 'Cats needed to upset third ranked Park University to force a tie-breaker at the NAIA National Invitational. The visiting Pirates were already headed to a semifinal match following an upset of top seeded Concordia Irvine on Thursday afternoon but were not looking to let the Wildcats in easily.
After a fairly balanced start to the opening set, the 'Cats hit a wall offensively as their attempts were met by a strong defense at the net by the Pirates. Johnson & Wales found themselves down just 6-9 before Park University put together a five point scoring run to jump ahead 14-6. From that point Park maintained their momentum and cruised to a .296 attacking and a 25-14 victory.
In the second set the Pirates seemed unfazed by anything the Widlcats sent over the net as they quickly countered and put the ball down on JWU. The Pirates strung together large scoring runs throughout the set as they held an 18-4 lead while Johnson & Wales struggled to find their rhythm. The Pirates pushed ahead to take the middle set 25-9.
In the final set, the Wildcats came out of the locker room with a new reason to play. They were not ready for their season to end. Johnson & Wales traded points with the Pirates for the first third of the set getting kills when necessary from every player. After the 'Cats tied the contest at 10 off a Park attack error, the Pirates countered with a four point run to start to shift the momentum in their favor. JWU couldn't regain their early rhythm as Park University closed out the set on a 11-4 run to take the final set 25-18.
The Wildcats were led by Weston Buker (Ventura, Calif.) with a .250 attacking percentage. Buker recorded five kills in the match. Chase Squires (Clarence Center, N.Y.) had 24 assists for Johnson & Wales in the loss. The Pirates were led by Pierre Tang-Taye with 11 kills and just one error.