Johnson & Wales continued their West Coast roadtrip with a Thursday night contest at conference rival #5 Hope International. The game was named the NAIA Game of the Week earlier in the day as the 'Cats kicked off their second contest of the season against the Royals. Hope International picked up a 3-0 victory on a neutral court in Northern California two weeks ago.
In the opening set, the Royals quickly went up 6-1 on Johnson & Wales before the 'Cat called a timeout to regroup. Following the timeout, the 'Cats rallied to take a 13-12 lead off a Ty Coutts (Colorado Springs, Colo.) kill. After the surge by the Wildcats, HIU quickly shut down the Johnson & Wales offense behind Dominique Blonski. Hope International continued to roll as they took the first set 25-16.
In the second set, the Wildcats opened on a 4-0 run and held a lead through the early part of the set. The Royals came back to pull within a point before JWU again stretched out a small lead. Johnson & Wales continued to find success through the set. Hope kept chipping away and eventually took their first lead of the set at 23-22. The teams traded points before Hope held on for the 27-25 win.
In the final set, the Royals used the momentum they developed late in the second set to string together short scoring runs. The Wildcats were not able to stop HIU as they quickly took the 25-14 victory. Josh Buted (Honolulu, Hawaii) had 10 kills for Johnson & Wales as well as 10 digs. Weston Buker (Ventura, Calif.) also brought up 10 digs. Coutts finished with two digs for JWU. Blonski had 11 kills for HIU while Filip Tomicic put up 30 set assists.
Both teams will meet again at Darling Pavilion on the HIU campus on Friday at 7pm PST.