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'Cats rally falls short, split Saturday contests

'Cats rally falls short, split Saturday contests

The Wildcats wrapped up their Mile High City Classic on Saturday afternoon with a pair of matches in the Wildcat Center.

The first match of the day was an A.I.I. meeting between the 'Cats and the Central Christian College Tigers. The Tigers opened the first set with a small lead but the Wildcats didn't let it get to them, rallying to go up 7-5. A six point run by Johnson & Wales allowed them to lead 13-6. After a single point by the Tigers, JWU put up a 7-0 run on their way to a 25-9 victory. JWU began the second set with a 6-0 start forcing the Tigers to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, CCC got on the board but JWU continued to pressure at the net and ran up a 25-15 victory.

The hot start continued for Johnson & Wales in the third set as the Wildcats opened to an 11-3 advantage. The Tigers made some inroads to come within four points but JWU shut them down and closed out the set on their way to a 25-17 win and the 3-0 conference sweep.

Brittany Mukhar (Lancaster, Calif.) hit .444 in the set and had nine kills for Johnson & Wales. Kelley McLain (Simi Valley, Calif.) had a game high 11 kills for the Wildcats and Ashlee Ruehs (Phoenix, Ariz.) finished with 33 assists. 

In the final match of the weekend the Wildcats took on the Fort Hays State University Tigers. The Tigers had gone 3-0 so far in the weekend and hadn't conceded a set while in Denver.

In the opening set the two sides traded scoring opportunities with the visiting Tigers stringing enough runs together to take the 25-19 win. In the second set the 'Cats were in the contest until FHSU rattled off four straight points to lead 10-5. The Wildcats came within two but another small run by the Tigers helped them put away the set 25-13.

Neither team started the third set well but the Wildcats were the first to recover and led 13-9. The Tigers broke up scoring runs as they were able but another four point run by JWU gave them the 19-12 advantage. The Tigers made a late push but Johnson & Wales fought back taking the 25-22 win.

In the fourth set, JWU began on a 5-2 run before the Tigers rallied to tie the set 7-7. The 'Cats again jumped out front, this time to a 13-9 advantage. Fort Hays State wouldn't go away though as they came back to take a 17-15 lead midway through the fourth. Johnson & Wales added four straight to go up by two but it was short-lived before FHSU led 20-19. Following a Wildcat timeout the 'Cats broke up the scoring run but couldn't get over the final hurdle, dropping the fourth set 25-22 and the match 3-1.

Johnson & Wales were able to get a set from the visiting Division II Tigers who moved to 12-0 on the season. Danielle Giannini (Morrison, Colo.) had a team high eight kills for Johnson & Wales and Hannah Christianson (Grass Valley, Calif.) finished with 19 digs. Ruehs collected a double-double with 29 kills and 10 digs for Johnson & Wales.

The Wildcats will travel to Point Lookout, Missouri next weekend for the Chick-fil-a Classic, hosted by College of the Ozarks. The 'Cats will take on two A.I.I. programs in what will be a preview of the A.I.I. tournament, aslo hosted by College of the Ozarks.