After winning two consecutive Big East matches, it looked as if the St. John’s Volleyball team was well on its way to saving its season.
But on Sunday, the team lost a heartbreaking five-set match to Seton Hall, 25-13, 27-25, 16-25, 16-25, 15-13. With the loss, St. John’s dropped to 15-10 overall and 2-6 in the Big East.
St. John’s fell behind by losing the first two sets, which gave the Red Storm a huge mountain to climb to get back into the match. But in the break in between the second and third sets, St. John’s took on a different mindset, which would prove to be what got them back into the match.
“We had more of a business-like attitude, which is really good for us,” said head coach Joanne Persico. “We changed from screaming and yelling. I think we were more business-like because we knew it was a big mountain to climb, and volleyball is about one game at a time.”
The “one game at a time” approach helped the Red Storm, as they came out and won the next two sets handily, setting up a fifth set where the they would lose by just two points, putting a damper on the valiant comeback attempt and sealing the tough victory for Seton Hall.
“Seton Hall has players from very good clubs, and you can see they’re very well-skilled,” said Persico.
“They’re not necessarily standing high (in terms of size) like a team like Louisville above the net, but they don’t make a lot of mistakes. I don’t think they made many serving mistakes, and they had a lot of aces. We outblocked them, but in terms of assists, their setter had 57 assists while we only had 32 assists [from our setter], so there you go.”
Junior transfer Alyssa Bennett, who Persico says is still fighting through a tough season, recorded a career-high 32 assists.
“She’s still pretty new,” Persico said. “We changed setters about two weeks ago. I think when you have these Big East matches that go to overtime, you need a good, experienced setter. I think she’s getting better, but there were a few sets there that probably could have been better.”
Diana Banya, who Persico said was “a valiant worker the whole match,” also tallied a career-high of 21 kills in the match. Junior Sabina Papala also registered a match-high of 10 blocks.
But despite the loss, Persico said her team still believes in itself, and is still able to keep things positive.
“We have a really positive group, and we try to keep it positive,” she said. “We vent on the sidelines, and we say stuff, but we really know that everybody on this team wants to win, and everybody here has come from winning programs. Everyone on this team is working hard to get better, and I think when you do the work, you refuse to lose, and I think we saw a little bit of that today.”
The Red Storm will try to recover, heading to South Bend on Oct. 30 to take on Notre Dame, before traveling to DePaul on Oct. 31.