Red Storm take down Orange

After losing a tough conference match to Marquette on Friday, the St. John’s volleyball team traveled to Syracuse Sunday afternoon, to face their upstate Big East rivals. The Red Storm handed the Orange their first conference loss this season in four sets (26-24, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18).

The Red Storm was challenged at times by Syracuse, including an extended first set. The first set included a match-high seven ties, until the Storm eventually prevailed after two key kills. Each kill was assisted by senior Wioleta Leszczynska. She set one to freshman Darlene Ramdin to put the Storm ahead 25-24 in the first, and another to sophomore Kun Song to give the Storm the set victory.

Five-straight errors by the Orange gave the Storm a 5-1 lead in the second set, a margin they would comfortably retain. Nine kills from the duo of Chen Chen, and Kun Song lifted the Storm, 25-16, over the Orange in the second.

The Storm headed into the third set with a 2-0 lead over the Orange, looking to end the match quickly in the next set. The Storm’s only sweep against Big East competition came against Cincinnati in their first conference match of the year.

The third set began favorably for the Storm with a service ace from Leszczynska. But the Orange got out to an 11-4 lead, and never looked back. A late 9-2 run by the Storm pulled them within one (18-17) of the Orange. But four untimely errors from the Storm helped the Orange win in the third, 25-20.

Looking to stay alive in the match, the Orange began the fourth set forcefully, jumping to an 11-8 lead. But after the Storm knotted the score at 11, the Orange were forced to take a timeout to regroup. It didn’t work. The Storm took the match into their hands and volleyed a decisive 25-18 victory. The set included four kills from senior Casie Brooks, and 13 assists by Leszcynska.

All season, head coach Joanne Persico-Smith, has pointed to teamwork as being the deciding factor for the Storm’s victories.

Sunday’s matchup was a complete team effort from the Storm as Leszcynska led the way with a match-high 53 assists. Brooks, Song and Kovaleva all tallied double-digit kills, while Ramdin and Chen finished just one shy. Kovaleva also recorded her third double-double (13 kills, 15 digs) in conference play this season.

For the Orange, Sarah Morton had 17 kills and Kacie MacTavish contributed 12. Despite finishing with 12 blocks collectively – four more than the Storm – the Orange moved to 9-9 on the season and dropped further in the conference standings.

The Storm currently boast a conference record of 29-2 over the past three seasons. They are 3-1 in the Big East this season, and 12-7 overall. The Storm continue on their nine game conference stretch, with six of them coming at home. Strides towards another conference championship continue Friday, when the Storm will take on Rutgers.