Red Storm Take STJ Invitational, Knock Off No. 24 Long Beach State

At the start of the 2007 season, St. John’s volleyball picked up exactly where they left off in 2006, posting a 4-0 record over the weekend en route to winning the STJ Invitational.

The Red Storm kicked off tournament play Friday facing NJIT.

The Johnnies breezed through their opening match, winning by a score of 3-0. Valeria Kovaleva led St. John’s with 16 kills and 11 digs. Hui Ping Huang also contributed with 11 kills and eight digs.

“We attacked and served well,” Huang said.
St. John’s faced Virginia Tech in the nightcap, coached by former St. John’s assistant volleyball coach Chris Riley, who was at the University 14 years ago.
“It was special to have [Riley] back in Queens,” head coach Joanne Persico-Smith said.

The Hokies would not go down without a fight, however. Despite a comfortable 30-16 win in game one, the Red Storm could not hold back Virginia Tech, losing game two by a score of 30-28.

Game three proved to be a thriller as St. John’s edged the Hokies 30-27.

The Johnnies appeared to have the edge all the way through, but Virginia Tech showed some resiliency by keeping the deficit within five for most of the game.

St. John’s would cruise to victory in game four by a score of 30-18, winning the match 3-1 and moving to 2-0 for the tournament.
The Red Storm began day two of the STJ Invitational by facing Fairfield. While St. John’s swept the match, Fairfield held strong throughout.

The Johnnies defeated Fairfield by scores of 30-23, 30-26, and 30-24 for the 3-0 win.
With a 3-0 record for the Invitational, St. John’s set itself up for a showdown with No. 24 Long Beach State Saturday night.
The Johnnies, led by Huang, who received Tournament MVP honors, upset the 49ers 3-1 to win the Tournament.

The Red Storm remained consistent to take game one 31-29.

The Johnnies had 27 kills in the game, led by Kovaleva with eight, and boasted a .468 hitting percentage.

St. John’s was also victorious in game two, 30-26. After battling to a 22-22 tie, the Red Storm pounded out five consecutive points to take control of the game.
Long Beach State didn’t give up, however, and led most of the way through a tightly played third game to gain momentum for game four.

The Johnnies would not let a lone loss get them down, and persevered in game four, battling back from an early five-point deficit to go up 18-14.

With the score tied at 20, St. John’s took the lead and never looked back, winning by a score of 30-26.

“I thought in tough situations we played well,” said Persico-Smith.
St. John’s will next be back in action this weekend at the Penn State Classic to face Virginia Commonwealth, Penn State, and Colgate.