10/11/2016 | The Johnson & Wales University Providence women's volleyball team has extended their winning streak to 20 after a pair of non-conference victories over Columbus Day weekend. This is the best season start in program history, head coach Nancy Somera said.
“I knew this group was talented, but what has surprised me the most is how quickly they gelled on the court,” Somera said. “From the first weekend of competition, this group has played as if they have been together for several years already. Their movement, court rhythm and communication—it usually takes much longer to work out all those kinks when you have 5 new starters on the floor.”
Sophomore middle hitter Emily Kalmink (pictured above) believes the youth of the team is a strength rather than a weakness. “We were led by some strong seniors last year, but this year everyone really stepped up,” Kalmink said. “Our opponents don't know anything about us, so they have no idea what's coming.”
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 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (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.
“Without those previous successes, we probably wouldn't be able to attract such talented freshmen to JWU,” Somera said.
Kalmink is confident this year's team will be able to follow in their predecessor's footsteps. “Nancy's a great coach,” she said, “and we all know what we need to do [to win].”