Volleyball Drops Two to the Pirates

Senior weekend could not bring any wins as the St. John’s volleyball team was defeated by Rutgers and Seton Hall.

The two losses drop the Johnnies to 15-16 overall with a mark of 4-7 in the Big East, and no chance of qualifying for the Big East Tournament for the sixth straight year.

On Friday night, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers beat the Red Storm, 3-1, (30-22, 30-28, 28-30, 30-28).

“One of our problems about being a young team on the court is that we can’t seem to finish,” St. John’s Head Coach Joanne Persico-Smith said. “It was a good effort but we didn’t play for the full 30 points.”

In the second game, St. John’s was winning 28-24, but then Rutgers rolled off six straight points to win, 30-28, and take a 2-0 advantage.

“We make consecutive errors, and we just can’t seem to finish it out,” Persico-Smith commented.

Freshman Jackie Ahlers continued to play strong, recording a match-high 21 kills, while senior Meaghan Creedon added ten kills.

Junior setter Robyn Kurasaki dished out a match-high 54 assists.

Rutgers was led by Lauren Venarchik, who accounted for 19 kills, while Pualani Tuyay dished out 41 assists.

“They weren’t really better than us, but they have more experience on the outside, and their setter [Tuyay] is possibly the best in the Big East,” Persico-Smith said.

The Red Storm returned to action on Sunday, as they hosted the Pirates of Seton Hall on Senior Day.

Seniors Creedon and Sarah McCrary were honored before the match, and it marked the final time in their careers that they would take the court at Alumni Hall.

“We lose two seniors who are very important, coachable and bright girls,” Persico-Smith said.

The Johnnies were defeated by the Pirates, 3-1, (30-25, 30-17, 20-30, 30-21).

“We had never lost on senior day,” Persico-Smith remarked.

Seton Hall jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, winning convincingly.

The Pirates hit a combined .437 to the Red Storm’s .217. The Red Storm bounced back, winning Game 3, 30-20, but were outplayed in Game 4, losing 30-21.

“We had to fight from behind, and defensively we need a little work,” Persico-Smith said. “It was an exciting, close game but unfortunately, we lose confidence as a young team.”

Persico-Smith isn’t the kind of coach who can take something out of a loss. That wasn’t the case this past weekend.

“One thing that kept me going was the play of sophomore outside hitter, Allison Heckl,” Persico-Smith said.

Heckl sparked the Red Storm coming off the bench and recording nine kills.

“She did an absolutely phenomenal job. She was doing all the things [passing, hitting, digging] a coach wants a sub to do.”

Kurasaki added a double-double, tallying 41 assists and ten digs. Jenna Meyer’s match-high 17 kills led the Pirates, while Shawn McDonald tallied 52 assists.

St. John’s will play its last two games of the season when they travel to Providence and Boston College this weekend. A victorious trip would put the Johnnies over the .500 mark on the season.