Mitchell’s 17 kills lead SJU over Rams

Shameka Mitchell gave no regard to St. John’s 11-year dominance of Fordham. But, what she did care about was this year’s Ram’s squad developing cockiness.

“They were pretty confident that they had us, so we kind of had to put them back in their places,” Mitchell said.

The transfer graduate student did just that in St. John’s 3-0 win over Fordham Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena.

After St. John’s won the first game 30-19 and with the Red Storm leading 28-26 in game two, Mitchell gave the Rams a reminder of what team was in control.

Following a volley, Mitchell lightly tapped the ball over the left side of the net. As it hit the ground the co-captain looked down and smiled at the sprawled out Fordham defenders.

“Sometimes a little eye-look can get their attention,” said Mitchell of a Fordham team she said was trash talking.

On the next play, Mitchell, who led St. John’s with 17 kills, followed with a booming spike that bounced off Ram defenders like a pinball to win the game 30-26. The Red Storm continued the momentum and won the final game 30-20, cementing the win. The victory is St. John’s (13-3, 0-0) eighth in a row and ups their record against Fordham to 11-1 all-time, as they enter Big East games this weekend.

“We had a great win against Hofstra and we hadn’t beaten them in a lot of years,” Persico-Smith said. “We try to remember that, how that feels, and not to let our guard down.”

The Red Storm’s only lapse may have come in the second game when they let Fordham jump out to an early 4-0 lead, but the size and athleticism of St. John’s front line eventually wore down the Rams. Blocks by Caitlin Rimgaila (6-foot-2) and Anicia Wood (6-foot-2) gave St. John’s a 13-11 lead in game two and sparked a run of six straight points. Sophomore Latoya Blunt (6-foot-1) had 12 kills and freshman Hui Ping Huang (6-foot-2) added seven.

“When our big girls come out of the game,” Persico-Smith said, “we have the little girls doing a lot of the dirty work.”

One of those role players is sophomore Lisa Tedder, who had a match-high 26 assists. Tedder, even after a few errors that left her shaking her head, continued to make hustle plays and set up her team like all-time NBA assist leader John Stockton.

With St. John’s leading 16-12 in the third game, Tedder saved a ball, while banging her legs into the scorer’s table, a play that ultimately allowed Mitchell to score a point on a deflection.

“She has been through those pressure spots, so even though you may see her make one or two inconsistent plays she usually gets right out of it,” said Persico-Smith of Tedder. “That comes from experience.”