SJU extend winning streak to seven games

The No. 22 St. John’s volleyball team wrapped up its final home match of the season on a positive note, sweeping Marquette by scores of 30-24, 30-21, 30-26 on Sunday. The win gives the Johnnies a 26-3 record (11-1 in the Big East), including a 22 home-match win streak dating back to 2005, a streak that includes two straight undefeated seasons at home over the last two years.

“I think it’s just an unbelievable accomplishment to have been undefeated at home for two straight seasons,” said head coach Joanne Persico-Smith. “We understand what the name Carnesecca means to us all here at St. John’s and [we] want to always bring honor to that court.”

It was not all smiles for the team, as it held Senior Day to honor its departing senior players- LaToya Blunt, Hui Ping Huang, Liz Austin and Dana DeMayo.

“Senior Day is always bittersweet for me,” said Persico-Smith. “We have been with these student athletes for four years straight and in a sense I am a step-mom to them while they are creating a home away from home.

“These seniors are exceptional people and deserve all the success they have experienced here on the St. John’s volleyball team,” she added.

Casie Brooks led the Red Storm, tying her career-high of 15 kills and a .714 hitting percentage.

“As a coach, it is always pleasing to see the younger athletes step up and continue to improve in all aspects of the game,” said Persico-Smith. “Casie is a pleasure to coach, is a really talented player and plays much bigger than her 5’8” height.”
The tandem of Brooks and Blunt helped lead the Red Storm to its game-one victory, combining for 10 kills in the first game as the Johnnies held off Marquette for a 30-24 win.

St. John’s continued to dominate in the early going of game two, taking a 17-11 lead. Marquette would respond with a shocking 9-2 run, giving them a 20-19 lead before a Johnnie timeout allowed the team to catch their breath and respond.

Fittingly, a senior helped turn the momentum around. With the score 21-20, DeMayo went back to serve and the Red Storm ran off 10 straight points for the win.

Marquette refused to go down easy, threatening to extend the match to a fourth game late in game three. However, after pulling within 27-26, the Golden Eagles ran out of gas and the Johnnies pulled off a hard-earned win and sweep, its 20th of the season.

The result alleviated any worries that Persico-Smith may have had about her team’s ability to deal with distractions that Senior Day brought.

“It is a big distraction in a way, with friends and families flying in to see their seniors play their final home game, but we work on focusing and concentrating on just the game,” said Persico-Smith.

St. John’s 3, Syracuse 0

The Red Storm opened up the weekend with a sweep of Syracuse University, 30-23, 30-24, 30-23 on Saturday afternoon. The Johnnies attack was led by senior Wioleta Lesczynska, who had a match-high 45 assists and nine digs. Fellow seniors Hui Ping Huang and LaToya Blunt combined for 26 kills and junior Lena Yee anchored the defense with 13 digs. The loss dropped Syracuse to 18-11, including 6-5 in the Big East.