No Fun in the Sun

The St. John’s volleyball team hit a wall this past weekend, as they were shutout by Big East powerhouses Miami and Virginia Tech.

A road trip that includes two of the top teams in the conference can take a lot out of a team.

“The trip was really grueling,” St. John’s Head Coach Joanne Persico-Smith said. “We flew to Miami on Thursday night, and then flew to Virginia Saturday night. We didn’t get home until 1 a.m. Monday morning.”

On Friday night, the Red Storm were defeated by the Hurricanes, 3-0 (30-20, 30-27, 30-19). Miami controlled the first game, outhitting St. John’s .308 to .026.

In the second game, the Johnnies fought hard, jumping out to a 16-12 advantage, but Miami answered with a 7-0 run, and eventually held off the Johnnies to win.

“We had chances to win, especially Game 2, but then Miami ran off a seven point spread,” Persico-Smith said. “Once we lost the second game, they did a good job of keeping us behind.”

“It was miserable,” senior middle hitter Meaghan Creedon added.

Freshman Jackie Ahlers led the way with 16 kills, which moved her into second place on the St. John’s all-time list for kills in a single season.

Senior Sarah McCrary chipped in with 14 kills.

“Our outside hitters did a good job against Miami,” Persico-Smith said.

Junior setter Robyn Kurasaki continued to shine, dishing out 38 assists.

On defense, St. John’s was led by freshman libero Shannon Engle, who accounted for 13 digs.

“Shannon is our defensive specialist,” Persico-Smith said. “She’s playing really well and I’m very proud of her.”

On Sunday, the Red Storm were defeated by a strong Virginia Tech team, 3-0 (30-27, 30-20, 30-28).

“We’ve probably played one of the poorest matches all season,” Persico-Smith said. “A good team like Virginia Tech will make you look bad.”

The Red Storm’s serve receive was poor, something that Persico-Smith says the team needs to improve on.

McCrary was injured, so she did not play the whole game, forcing Ahlers to step up her play.

She did, resulting in a match-high 16 kills.

Kurasaki recorded a double-double, tallying 32 assists and 17 digs, while Engle chipped in with 13 digs.

Ana Lang led Virginia Tech with 13 kills and 15 digs, while Melissa Markowski had 37 assists.

The two losses dropped the Red Storm to 15-14 overall and 4-5 in the Big East.

“We need more than three or four people to step up in order to win,” Persico-Smith said.

“I don’t think we played with enough heart over the weekend, and that’s the main reason we lost those games,” Kurasaki added.

St. John’s needs to win its next four games against Rutgers, Seton Hall, Providence and Boston College to have a chance to qualify for the Big East Tournament.

This upcoming weekend is senior weekend and Persico-Smith is “looking forward to getting the seniors some wins.”

On Friday night, St. John’s welcomes Rutgers, while Seton Hall comes to Alumni Hall on Sunday afternoon.