Lions clinch GNAC playoff berth

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Emerson lost to Johnson & Wales in quarterfinals of the 2017 GNAC tournament. Photo: Kyle Bray/Beacon Staff

By Dylan Rossiter, Operations Managing Editor

The Emerson men’s volleyball team is heading to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference postseason tournament for the ninth year in a row.

The Lions, 5-9 in the GNAC, closed regular season play Saturday with a win and loss, as they split a pair of games at Regis College’s Higgins Court. The team’s efforts grant them the sixth and final playoff spot.

Senior Nick Rusk led the Lions with a match-best 17 kills, as the Lions downed Regis in five sets (25-18, 21-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-4). The win punched Emerson’s playoff ticket, as the team gained a win and the seeding tiebreaker over Regis, who entered the day seventh in the standings.

Match two featured a potential playoff preview as Emerson faced off against Johnson & Wales University—third in the conference standings. Junior Mark Piorkowski’s 12 kills, and junior Carl D’Aguiar’s 12 digs weren’t enough as the Lions fell in session 3-0 (15-25, 20-25, 16-25).

In their only previous meeting this season on Mar. 27, the Lions fell 3-1 (16-25, 20-25, 25-23, 17-25). Piorkowski led all in kills with 16. The match was played at Johnson & Wales home court in Providence, RI.

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Emerson next travels to face No. 3 Johnson & Wales in the GNAC quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The contest, available for streaming at thegnac.tv, is a rematch of last year’s opening round match, which the fifth seeded Lions lost 3-0.

The Lions will have history against them on Tuesday, as they have been eliminated from the playoffs in four straight first round appearances since last advancing to the semifinals in 2013, and the team’s has lost 13 straight meetings against Johnson & Wales.