Johnson & Wales opened their 2016 campaign on Friday as they hosted the Wildcat Invitational. The first match of the day for JWU saw the 'Cats facing off against Loyola University of New Orleans. The Wildcats struggled in the opening set, with nerves and rust holding them to -0.031attacking. The 'Cats dropped the first set 18-15.
In the second set the Wildcats rebounded and notched 16 kills against four errors to hit .316 in the set. Kelley McLain (Simi Valley, Calif.) had seven kills on 11 attempts in the second set as Johnson & Wales took the 25-22 victory. In the third set, Sierra Joyner (Oxnard, Calif.) brought up five digs as the 'Cats cruised to a 25-17 set win. The final set had the 'Cats take the 25-18 win on their way to a 3-1 match victory.
McLain began her senior season hitting .412 with 16 kills and just two errors in the match. Katie Malachinski (Stevensville, Mont.) had six kills and hit .333 for the 'Cats. She led the squad with six block assists. Joyner finished with 20 digs for JWU.
In the second match of the day, Johnson & Wales faced John Brown University. The Golden Eagles came out strong, hitting .267 in the first set while the Wildcats again hit -0.031 in the first set of the match. In the first set, McLain led the 'Cats with three kills and also added three digs but JWU fell 18-25. In the second set, the Wildcat picked up their offense, hitting .238 in the set with 14 kills but fell 23-25 late. The final set had the Golden Eagles keep the 'Cats on the ropes with an early lead. The Wildcats weren't able to make the comeback and dropped the final set 16-25.
McLain finished the match with 10 kills and Danielle Giannini (Morrison, Colo.) hit .500 with five kills on 10 attempts. Emily Gazaway (Louisville, Colo.) had 18 assists for Johnson & Wales in the loss.
The Wildcats will continue action this weekend on Saturday at 12pm when they take on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.