Week in Review: Volleyball Peaks At Eight Straight Wins



TORCH PHOTO/ Brenden Willsch

Another successful week of St. John’s Athletics was marked by a remarkable win streak and an unforgettable game winner to begin Big East Conference contention. 

Women’s Volleyball opened the week with a dominant win at Stony Brook University last Tuesday. Led by current Big East Player of the Week, Rachele Rastelli, who had 18 kills in the match, the Red Storm cruised to a 3-1 victory. The Johnnies then traveled to the Western Kentucky University Invitational on Friday and defeated Austin Peay and Lipscomb to reach eight straight wins. Those eight straight wins represent the program’s largest win streak since 2012.

It would be their peak, as the Red Storm were swept by No. 23 Western Kentucky in the finals of the WKU Invitational. The Women’s Volleyball team finished the non conference slate at 9-5 overall. They now have a week to prepare for a showdown with the University of Connecticut on Saturday in their Big East Conference opener. 

The Men’s Soccer team finished their home stretch strong with a win last Monday, securing a 1-0 victory versus Columbia at Belson Stadium. All the scoring in the match was provided by Lucas Bartlett who, assisted by Atila Ashrafi, broke the tie in the 43rd minute. It was a win that propelled the Johnnies towards their Big East opener. 

Men’s Soccer was the first program to begin Big East Conference play with a match win versus Xavier University in Cincinnati last Saturday –– their first road win versus Xavier in program history. The game remained tied at zero for over 70 minutes before midfielder Brandon Knapp scored the first and only goal of the match. It was Knapp’s third goal of the season, all of which have been game-winning goals. The Musketeers were contained by Luka Gavran, who made three saves to secure a Red Storm win. Men’s Soccer currently is 5-2-0 (1-0-0 BE) and looks to continue their winning ways at Belson as they face Creighton University on Friday. 

The Women’s Soccer team did not fare as well in their only contest of the week falling to Yale University, 2-0. The Red Storm had a few chances, sending three shots on goal to no avail. Despite the loss, the Johnnies (4-2-1) look ahead to their Big East Conference opener at Connecticut on Thursday. 

After finishing fourth at The Doc Gimmler Fall Intercollegiate, a tournament held in Farmingdale, NY, the Men’s Golf team secured their first head-to-head win at Navy last Sunday. The match, held as part of the Match Play by the Bay event at the Naval Academy Golf Club, featured Peicheng Chen, Doug Beney and Ryan Rittberger winning their individual matches. The event of six head-to-head matches offered three possible points per match, with the higher point total winning the match. Overall the team defeated Navy, 10-8. 

St. John’s Men’s and Women’s Tennis opened their fall seasons with a pair of invitational tournaments last weekend. The Men’s team played a combination of singles and doubles matches versus Penn, Drexel and Big East rival Georgetown in the Penn Invitational. In the singles, junior transfer Axel Vila Antuna was the only Red Storm player to win all of his matches. In doubles contention, the pair of Vila Antuna and Ignacio Garcia won two out of three matches by a combined score of 6-1. The Johnnies aim to refine their craft before the International Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Championships is held from Oct. 2 through Oct. 10. 

The Women’s team spent the weekend at the fifth annual Columbia Invite and senior Mouna Bouzgarrou brought a singles title home to Queens. Bouzgarrou defeated her first two opponents to secure the title after her next expected opponent withdrew, according to St. John’s Athletics. Wila Bay Breunich also advanced to the semi-finals, but fell to Michelle Xu of Columbia. Next will be the ITA Northeast Regionals held at West Point from Oct. 1-3. 

In a week centered around exciting wins and tough losses, there is a lot to take from the Red Storm’s collective 6-2 week. Both Women’s Volleyball and Soccer close out strong non conference schedules with difficult losses, and have to regroup before facing the ever-menacing Big East Conference. Similarly, Men’s Soccer (W4) and Golf have to try and continue their strong performances. Women’s Cross Country, who did not race last week, have to prepare for the looming Jasper Invite on Saturday. 

No matter the challenge, our student-athletes have spent the introductory weeks of the fall season proving they are up to the task.