St. John’s fell to the hands of Big East opponent Xavier in straight sets (26-24, 25-18, 25-21) Friday evening. Xavier’s timely finishes in both the first and second set put the Red Storm in a deep hole, which led to their fifth loss in their last seven games.
The Johnnies (14-10) failed to put Xavier (14-8) away at the end of the first two sets cost them the victory. After taking a late timeout, Xavier ended the first set by stringing together four straight points to pull out the set in comeback fashion. The second set was no different for the Red Storm. After getting an 18-17 lead, St. John’s conceded eight straight points giving Xavier a 2-0 lead in the match. St. John’s fought hard in the third set but couldn’t avoid the sweep in the crucial Big East matchup.
“If we win one of those two sets, our energy is sustainable and we would have had a little more momentum,” said Coach Persico. “There’s a big difference in the locker room between being down 0-2 and 1-1.”
St. John’s sophomore outside hitter Karin Palgutova put up her team leading tenth double-double tallying 10 kills and 11 digs. Despite her performance she knows the key to getting a win is minimizing mistakes.
“In the crucial situations,” Palgutova said. “If we eliminate a few mistakes we can be much better.”
The Red Storm have been known to be a streaky team this season when it comes to both wins and losses. A five game winning streak in the early part of the season has been overshadowed recently by losses to Big East opponents such as Butler, Georgetown and now Xavier twice.
“Well we know we’re playing the better part of our schedule right now,” said Persico. “We prepared hard for Xavier but they have really solid, athletic people on their side but we’re battling and getting better every game.” Palgutova commented on the tough stretch saying,
St. John’s will try to avoid back-to-back Big East losses when they take on conference rival Butler Saturday at 7 p.m. in Carnesecca Arena.
“This year the conference is much better so the teams are equal, we have to make sure we don’t make that many mistakes.”