The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Red Storm conquers Pirates

It was not the dominant performance the St. John’s women’s volleyball team hoped to turn in against the Seton Hall Pirates on Sunday afternoon.

The first-place Red Storm did not expect to have to come from behind to defeat a team that had lost four of its last six matches and entered the day with the same number of wins as losses.
Or to struggle at home, in Carnesecca Arena, where the team has gone 25-0 and not lost a match since Oct. 23, 2005.

But despite losing the first set on match-point, the Red Storm won the next three to defeat Seton Hall in four sets (25-27, 25-14, 25-19, 25-21) and held on to the top spot in the Big East with a 9-1 conference record.

And in a match that saw 27 tie scores and 14 lead changes, perhaps the most important number of the afternoon was 2,000.

But don’t ask libero Lena Yee about that number.

Yee, who became the Red Storm’s all-time career digs leader earlier this season, came into the match just ten digs shy of 2,000.

“I had no idea,” Yee said. “This is what everybody keeps telling me.”

With 12 digs on the day, the Hawaiian native surpassed the monumental mark and has at least four more matches to add to her total before graduating.

“She is the most wonderful person to coach,” head coach Joanne Persico-Smith said about Yee. “Every practice is like a game to her. She never takes off a play.”

However, Yee did not want all of the focus to be on her after the match concluded, but instead wanted to highlight the performances of her teammates.

“This was Val’s game,” she said.

Valeria Kovaleva is the Red Storm’s outside hitter and perhaps most consistent performer throughout the season.

Kovaleva, who was coming off a match against Villanova where her 21 kills was a new career best, recorded 18 more kills on the day to go along with seven digs and a .400 hitting percentage.
“She single-handedly took over the game,” Persico-Smith said. “She was really hitting well today.”

And on a day where setter Wioleta Leszczynska recorded a match-high 56 assists but struggled to hit the ball well with a .125 hitting percentage, the Red Storm looked to another upperclassman to help carry the team to a victory.

Casie Brooks got off to a slow start in the first set, but had a strong finish to the day. Brooks recorded the team’s only double-double with 15 kills and 13 digs.

“Coach [Persico-Smith] calls Casie the X-factor,” Yee said. ” She’s a go-to hitter.”

The Red Storm are now 36-2 in the Big East since 2006 and look to continue their success when they play host to the USF Bulls on Friday.

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