11/7/2016 | Fans packed the Wildcat Center Saturday afternoon to watch the Providence women's volleyball team extend their winning streak to 33 matches as they defeated Rivier, 3-1 (27-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-19), to claim their second straight GNAC Championship. This win secured the team an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. This is the Wildcats' seventh conference championship, the most of any volleyball program in the GNAC.
“[The team] worked hard all year to continue to improve and get better and...coming in undefeated is a lot of pressure and I think they handled it really well,” Head Coach Nancy Somera told ABC 6 in a post-game interview.
The women's volleyball program on JWU's Providence Campus has been gaining momentum since Somera took over as head coach in 2014. That season she led the Wildcats to the GNAC Championship match for the first time since 2010. The following season (2015), JWU upset Rivier in the GNAC Championship match to advance to the NCAA tournament, finishing with a 23-8 record and 10-1 conference record.
“The past two years it's been us against Riv in the Championship but it's been [on their campus], both years.... But it was nice to do it here in front of our home crowd and our fans were awesome,” Somera said.
Three JWU players also made the GNAC Volleyball All-Tournament Team. Sophomore middle hitter Emily Kalmink and freshman middle blocker Kate Walker join freshman setter and Tournament MVP Brylee Frank, in addition to players from Rivier, Simmons and Anna Maria.
The Wildcats will travel to Tufts University in Medford, Mass., to take on UMass Boston on Friday, November 11 at 5:30pm in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Check out some of the highlights from the GNAC Championship game below.