Towson Tiger Invitational

St. John’s finished the Towson Tiger Invitational at 2-1 this weekend in Maryland, leaving them at an 11-4 overall record before beginning Big East play this week.

Fresh off of their sweep of La Salle at Carnesseca Arena, the Red Storm cruised into Towson. The Johnnies snagged the first two matches against North DakotaState and KentState, forming a six-game winning streak before dropping the tournament finale to the home team.  Senior Aleksandra Wachowicz and junior setter Shawna-Lei Santos were named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts.

The Johnnies began the tournament Friday morning with their eighth sweep of the season (25-17, 25-15, 25-14) against North DakotaState. Junior Karin Palgutova led the match in kills with 16 and a .419 attacking percentage, while Santos recorded 31 digs, also good for a match best.  Wachowicz recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs. Things were slightly less easy later in the day as it took five sets for the Red Storm to finish off KentState, but they nonetheless took the match by a score of 3-2.

That’s where the wins stopped for St. Johns, however, as the Tigers took the final match in four sets (13-25, 20-25, 25-23, 21-25).  Wachowicz certainly wasn’t the problem for the Red Storm as she led the match with 20 kills to go with seven digs, three service aces and two blocks. What really hurt St. John’s was going to battle without their star setter, junior Deniz Mutlugil, who was unable to play due to injury. Mutlugil had been averaging 10.5 assists per set, and the Johnnies must now enter the next few weeks of conference play without her demanding presence.

Freshman Delaney D’Amore got the call for her first start of the season and the job of replacing Mutlugil in the starting lineup, and had a team-high 13 digs, while veteran Santos carried the load of assists with 41.

In an interview earlier in the season, head coach Joanne Persico was asked about any standout leaders on her freshman-heavy squad. She immediately began to praise D’Amore.

“Delaney, she’s done a good job,” Persico said. “It’s a big change from club; she comes from an outstanding club program and she’s done a nice job of kind of getting in the matches and practices with an upper personality. She’s carried herself well.”

It will be interesting to see how D’Amore handles the pressures of conference play as the Johnnies are set to take on Villanova this week.  The Wildcats defeated the Johnnies when they last met in late November, and they currently lead the Red Storm in the all-time series 12-11.


St. John’s will head to Villanova to try and even the score on Wednesday, Sept. 24.