The St. John’s Volleyball team concluded their 2012 season after losing 3-0 (15-25, 23-25, 18-25) to the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals on Friday. Despite the loss, the Red Storm improved immensely this season – improving from a 10-21 record last year to a 20-12 record this year.
“One of my most enjoyable seasons,” said St. John’s coach Joanne Persico. “It was one of my favorite freshmen classes to coach. We really made a statement by coming from the bottom to the playoffs. I also really enjoyed my staff. I feel like the girls grew up as teammates and players.”
Recruiting will be a immense part in preparing for next season, as Persico and her staff will try and fill the gaps of losing seniors Ashley Asing, Sabina Piegza, Gabriela Petkova, and Milica Krstojevic.
“You cannot replace players, but you can bring in new people and grow as a team, as a unit, not individually,” Persico said. “We will find stronger, taller, and better players and keep moving forward.”
Louisville’s senior and Big East blocks leader Gwen Rucker had a match-high nine blocks, two of which were solo. She also tied her teammate and Big East Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova’s match-high of 13 kills.
The Johnnies saw a glimmer of hope in the second set where they tied the score with the Cardinals five times and did not trail by more than three points. However, Louisville ended the Johnnies chance at winning a set when they got three straight points and continued that momentum for the rest of set and game. In the third set, the Cardinals went on a 7-1 run at an 8-8 tied score and continued to win the match.
“In the set second we had chances to win,” Persico said. “I think when you play the number 10 team in the country; you have to take that set. We had to play perfect Volleyball against a team like that. We went neck and neck, the positive is that we were there, the negative is that the second set had a lot to say about what was going to happen for the rest of the match.”
Freshman and All-Big East first team player Karin Palgutova had a team-high of 12 kills, while sophomore Aleksandra Wachowicz had double-digit kills as well after recording 11 kills on 28 attempts. Sophomore Ashley Boursiquot led the team in hitting percentage (.750), as she had six kills on eight attempts – five came in the tight second set.
Seniors Gabriela Petkova and Sabina Piegza ended their career at St. John’s with impressive play. Petkova had 11 assists, eight digs and her first kill of 2012. Piegza had 24 assists in only two sets of play.