LEXINGTON, Ky. — The meteoric rise of the Johnson & Wales University women’s volleyball program has been artfully crafted by head coach Nancy Somera. A top-10 national ranking and spot in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals was more than enough for her to earn the U.S. Marine Corps/American Volleyball Coaches Association National Coach of the Year Award.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats go into Thursday’s 8 p.m. quarterfinal showdown with host Calvin as the only undefeated team in the country at 35-0. Johnson & Wales earned its spot in the Elite Eight after beating MIT in the finals of the Providence Regional.
Somera took over a Johnson & Wales program in 2014 that was coming off three-straight losing seasons. In her first season she had the Wildcats back in the GNAC Tournament finals and the following year JWU hoisted the first of three trophies. During Somera’s time as court boss, the Wildcats have a 108-26 record, including a 41-5 GNAC mark.
There were a number of firsts for the Wildcats this season. A 3-0 win over #14 MIT on September 29 was the program’s first against a ranked opponent. The following week, JWU earned its first national ranking.
Over the last two seasons, Johnson & Wales has been the most dominant team in the country. The Wildcats have a 68-1 record during that time and have only lost 13 sets. For nearly two months the Wildcats did not drop a set as they won 64-consecutive sets. JWU came two sets short of tying its own NCAA record set in 2016.
Twice named AVCA New England Region Coach of the Year, Somera’s players have had unprecedented success. On Tuesday, Kate Walker, Maria Coniglio, Brylee Frank and Katie Leidhold were named AVCA All-Americans. Walker is the school’s first, First-Team All-American as well as New England Player of the Year.
The last two seasons, Johnson & Wales has been unbeatable at home and in the conference. The victory over MIT was JWU’s 41st-straight home win, the ninth-longest streak in NCAA history. Johnson & Wales has won its last 26 conference games, dating back to October 22, 2015.
SOURCE: Johnson & Wales Athletics Press Release