Positivity Moving Forward

Despite a disappointing weekend that saw the St. John’s women’s volleyball team lose two conference games, head coach Joanne Persico and senior leaders Sabina Piegza and Gabriela Petkova refuse to let the rest of the team get down on themselves before their two-game road trip.

It’s the first rough period that this young Red Storm team, with two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup, have gone through, but the upperclassmen are doing their part to ensure that spirits don’t drop as the Big East schedule continues.

“We’re just going to go to work and keep our heads up,” senior setter Sabina Piegza said. “And we just have to win our next games.”

Another senior, libero Gabriela Petkova, leads by example with constant digs during plays, and in between sets can be seen yelling words of encouragement at her teammates, slapping them on the thighs to make sure they don’t get disheartened.

“I just encourage them,” said Petkova. “Volleyball is a game of errors, so after every error we should just shake it off and keep playing. We just don’t let this affect our ability to play.”

Petkova, like Piegza, feels that the underclassmen have the maturity to bounce back from a rough weekend.

“The upperclassmen are vocal but we also have really good freshman,” said Petkova. “We’re a team, so it comes from everybody.”

The Red Storm (17-6, 4-3) forced No. 15 Louisville (18-3. 7-1) to a fifth set on Friday, but were stifled by Big East blocks leader Gwen Rucker and an aggressive Cardinals squad.

On Sunday, the Johnnies lost to Cincinnati (8-13, 6-2), a team that St. John’s head coach Joanne Persico believes to have more talent than people recognize, reflected in their success in Big East play rather than their overall record.

This weekend, they’ll head on the road for matches against Pittsburgh on Friday and South Florida on Sunday, something that could have a unifying effect on the team, according to Persico.

“I think the good news is we’re on the road and we’ll have time to be together,” Persico said after her second loss of the weekend. “We play another good Pittsburgh team and a very feisty South Florida team, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Persico, after critiquing her team following Sunday’s loss, noted the importance of her more experienced players, and was confident in moving forward.

“They’re seniors, and our program is all about being leaders,” Persico said. “They give it all they have.”