Oct. 7, 2017
• Box Score (PDF)
CINCINNATI – In a thrilling and tightly contested match all night at the Cintas Center, the St. John’s volleyball team fell behind 1-0 and again at 2-1, but rallied back to win the final two sets of the match for an incredible 3-2 (26-28, 25-23, 24-26, 25-20, 16-14) come-from-behind victory to notch its first triumph over Xavier in school history.
“Today’s mantra going into the match was for our team to find a way,” said Head Coach Joanne Persico. “Tonight they had to summon up extraordinary perseverance and superb teamwork and execution of the skills in pressure moments to push through and win in five sets over a BIG EAST team on the road, after having lost some close matches leading up to tonight. I am very proud of all of them.”
The Red Storm’s offense was extremely balanced on Saturday night with four different players recording 12 or more kills, including a career-night for the 5th year player Danisha Moss. Known for her talented blocking skills, Moss performed astonishing on the offensive end with a career-high 19 kills on a .424 hitting percentage, while also adding five blocks. A 2017 Preseason All-BIG EAST selection, Erica Di Maulo conducted the well-balanced offense with a career-high 62 assists and 17 digs for the 6-foot setter’s second-straight double-double to close out the challenging Midwest road trip.
The career-highs for the Red Storm were galore against the Musketeers, who have made two-straight BIG EAST Tournaments, with the freshman Kayley Wood notching 16 kills, a season-best for the Texas native. After tying a career-best with 19 digs last night, Amanda Sanabia averaged five digs per set with a career-high 25 to lead the back line for the Johnnies.
A gifted offensive player, Julia Cast recorded 19 kills in the match to give the senior over 300 kills on the season for the second consecutive year. The Westbury, N.Y., native now ranks 10th in program history for most career kills and is just 11 shy of reaching the 1,000 kill mark.
Hanna Wagner posted another solid effort for the Johnnies with 12 kills and led the team with six blocks, while Jordan McCalla tallied a career-high 15 digs in the comeback victory.
Despite Xavier recording more blocks, digs and hit at a higher clip, the Red Storm used eight service aces and 70 assists compared to the Musketeers’ 57 to pick up its second conference victory of the season and first five set triumph. Alexis Newsome set a school record 12 blocks for Xavier and the Musketeers registered 23 total blocks in the match.
The Musketeers began the match with a 6-1 run, but Claudia Lopez entered the match for the first time in her career and won four consecutive points on her serve, including an ace to even the frame at seven. Xavier regained the momentum by going on a 12-6 run for a 19-13 lead. The Red Storm came back again in the set to take a 24-23 lead, using three blocks during the stretch, but Xavier won five of the next seven points to close out the set with a 28-26 victory. Wood delivered four kills, while Di Maulo conducted the offense with 11 assists in the opening stanza.
Xavier started the next set of the night with a 7-3 lead and the young Johnnies stormed right back to take an 11-10 advantage after back-to-back kills by Moss. Each school exchanged points for the rest of the frame until Delaney D’Amore notched a service ace to give the Red Storm a 24-22 lead. Lauren Frilling of Xavier then connected on a kill and a kill by Wood finished off the set for the Johnnies with a 25-23 victory to even the match at one set apiece.
Picking up where it left off in the second stanza, the Red Storm rolled to an 11-4 advantage over the Musketeers to open up the third set.In another frame that featured multiple runs, Xavier went up 15-13 on the Red Storm and then St. John’s won four-straight points. The Musketeers came back to win the set 26-24, which marked every frame to this point was won by just two points.
For the second consecutive night, the Red Storm went into a fourth set and started off playing solid with a 9-6 lead after an ace by Lexie Lobdell, who had a career-high three on the night. Xavier cut the deficit to 13-12 and the Johnnies uncorked another run, winning five of the next six points on a pair of kills by Moss. From there, the Red Storm prevented any run of the Musketeers to win the stanza, 25-20, to send the match into a fifth set for the fourth time this season for St. John’s. Every set except for the fourth was won by just two points in an extremely competitive and back-and-forth contest.
The Red Storm was looking for its first five set triumph of the season and after leading 7-5, the squad fell behind, 10-8. The Red Storm did not back down all match after trailing as the Johnnies reeled off four consecutive points on two kills, an ace and a block. Xavier then tied the decisive fifth set at 14, but a block by Wood and Wagner, followed by a kill from the sophomore Wagner finished off the tremendous comeback victory over Xavier, 16-14.
The victory over the BIG EAST foe marked the second time this season the Red Storm has won a match after dropping the first set and also gave Perisco her 450th win in her stellar coaching career. Seven different Johnnies set a career-high in the 3-2 triumph to help the Red Storm collect its first victory over Xavier in school history.
St. John’s will come back to Carnesecca Arena for a Wednesday night matchup on Oct. 11 against BIG EAST foe Georgetown with first serve slated for 7 p.m. and the match will be aired on ESPN3.