The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s Sweeps in First Round of NIVC Tournament

The Red Storm battled back from a slow start to win in the opening round at home.
Torch Photo / Isabella Cautero

St. John’s Volleyball opened up their first time hosting the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) with a win against the Howard Bison on Dec. 1. The game was established by a strong Red Storm defense that battled back in the first set to take over the match. 

St. John’s is one of eight schools to host in the opening two rounds of the tournament, with visiting teams of University of South Florida, University of Buffalo and Howard University. This is the Red Storm’s second straight year with a spot in the NIVC tournament and third of all time. 

Logging in her sixth double-double of the 2023 season, outside hitter Lucrezia Lodi led the charge for the Johnnies with 17 digs, 10 kills and two block assists. Erin Jones, the sophomore right side hitter/setter, added 16 kills to the Johnnies 41 total. Overall the team hit .204% with an impressive nine aces. 

Following close behind Jones and Lodi was middle blocker Magda Stambrowska who clocked in nine kills and three blocks. Junior setter Wiktoria Kowalczyk logged a match-high of 26 assists for the Johnnies, as well as eight digs and two aces. In the back court, defensive specialist Rashanny Solano-Smith had 12 digs to help pace the Red Storm against a fiery and disciplined Howard offense.

The first set opened up with a dominant performance from the visiting Bison, but St. John’s found a way to climb themselves back into the match and earn a 28-26 set win. 

Within the first three points Howard’s outside hitter Dami Awojobi put up two hits against outside hitter Georgia Walther who blocked the ball out of bounds. Stambrowska answered with a huge slam down the middle for the Johnnies and would soon end the Bison’s five-point scoring run with another kill to bring the score 8-4. 

Halfway through the set Lodi and Jones got the engines fired up and shifted the momentum for St. John’s in the top court. They would promptly go on a 3-0 scoring run to edge the score closer at 12-10. 

After a Bison timeout Jones hit a huge serve to bring their deficit to one point. From there the Johnnies were able to convert on a few back and forth rallies, keeping it at a close game. A set sliding play from Solano-Smith to Lodi brought the score to 23-22 and in the hands of Lodi’s serve.

With Howard at set point, St. John’s climbed their way back to earn three more points and force the set further. The dicey set ended in St. John’s favor after two out-of-bounds shots from Howard. Howard outplayed the Johnnies with a .200% attacking rate compared to their .150% attacking rate, but ultimately St. John’s steadied themselves enough to convert on a few Bison turnovers. 

From there, the next two sets were in the hands of the Red Storm. St. John’s was energized and took full advantage of their home court with an immediate 2-0 scoring run capitalized by Stambrowska and Kowalczyk. 

Senior middle blocker Eleonara Tosi became a clear vocal leader on the court and kept the team in check after every point Howard made. The team would go on to register eight straight points including five kills from Tosi, Jones and Stambrowska. After going down 18-9 the Bison countered with six straight points to keep themselves alive for a little bit longer before falling 25-21 in the second set. 

Both teams racked up more than double the amount of kills, St. John’s with 30 and Howard with 26, to the score sheet in the second set. St. John’s was led by Jones with 11 kills and four digs. 

The third set opened up with some momentum by Howard who went up 5-4 before the Johnnies tore through a five point scoring run to take the lead. Solano-Smith really paced the Johnnies well halfway through with 12 digs, matching Howard’s libero Claire Simpson who paced the Bison with 14. 

The two teams battled it out through the middle of the set before a few kills from St. John’s and some costly errors by Howard allowed the Red Storm to go on an 8-0 tear, bringing the score to 24-13. Walther finished off the night with a kill and added to her three on the night overall.  

The Red Storm will be back at Carnesecca Arena on Saturday to face off against South Florida in the Super 16 round of the NIVC Tournament. 

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About the Contributor
Isabella Cautero, Asst. Sports Editor
Isabella is a junior journalism student serving as an Assistant Sports Editor. She is minoring in sport management. Outside of The Torch, she likes to spend time with her friends, read, go to the gym, play with her dog and watch the New York Yankees or Rangers play. On any given day you can find her listening to her favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. 

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