Aug. 25, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - As the St. John's volleyball team enters its 18th season, the only coach in program history, Joanne Persico, looks to lead a veteran-laden squad back to the top of the BIG EAST Conference in 2011, in what should be another exciting campaign for the program.
Since the team's inception in 1994, the Red Storm has risen to new heights, tallying 341 wins, 11 All-Americans, two NCAA Tournament appearances, including one Sweet 16 appearance, three BIG EAST regular season championships and one BIG EAST Tournament championship.
After finishing the 2010 season with 18 wins and coming off an extremely strong spring campaign, the Red Storm returns plenty of depth, including five starters and its starting libero from a season ago. Leading the way for St. John's will once again be 2011 BIG EAST All-Preseason Team member Darlene Ramdin. A Second Team All-BIG EAST performer in 2010, Ramdin returns for her final campaign in the Red and White after leading the team in all major statistical categories including kills (256), hitting percentage (.261) and blocks (119). The 6-foot-2 middle hitter is currently ranked ninth in all-time kills (879) and eighth in all-time blocks (278) in the STJ record books.
Ramdin will be joined by 10 returning letterwinners, which includes seniors Jordan Haskins, Brunna Kronbauer, Anzelika Lukjanska and Paulina Piegza, as well as experienced juniors Ashley Asing, Sabina Papala and Gabriela Petkova. The squad also returns sophomores Korina Yee, Kerri Johnson and Taryn Bohan, and welcomes seven newcomers to the court in 2011.
MIDDLE BLOCKER/MIDDLE HITTER
The Red Storm returns four to the middle in 2011, including Ramdin, Haskins, Papala and Johnson. Ramdin will once again look to be versatile in the middle and lead both the offensive and defensive game at the net, with Papala and Haskins being main contributors to the blocking game. In just her first season at St. John's, Papala finished second on the team with 85 blocks in 2010, while Haskins added 84 of her own in 2009. Johnson will bounce around from the middle and outside hitter positions again this season and look to continue to put her powerful swing down for points. The Red Storm added another local talent to the middle in 2011, with 6-foot-3 freshman Ashley Boursiquot joining the squad. A North Baldwin, N.Y., native, Boursiquot was a two-time Nassau County Volleyball Coaches' Association (NCVCA) All-County member at Baldwin High School.
After accounting for 87 percent of St. John's assists in 2009 and just over 50 percent in 2010, Petkova took a stab at libero for the Red Storm late last season and did not disappoint. In just her second match at the position, the Bulgarian tallied a career-high 29 digs in a thrilling 3-2 win at DePaul on Oct. 31, and finished the season with an impressive 254 digs. As STJ's primary libero last season, Yee led the squad with 267 digs, and Asing upped her career total to 580 as one of the Red Storm's primary defensive specialists. Bohan returns as another defensive weapon in 2011, and the Red Storm welcomes two California girls, Danielle Brackett and Morgan Thomas, to the back line.
In addition to Petkova, who will bounce around between a defensive role and St. John's primary passer, the Red Storm welcomes Paulina Piegza's twin sister Sabina Piegza to the setter position. Piegza is an accomplished community college player at Western Nebraska C.C., where she helped compile 101 wins in two seasons with the Cougars. The 6-foot-2 junior transfer was a 2009 NJCAA First Team All-American and finished her career with 1,687 assists, 238 digs and 142 blocks.
OUTSIDE/RIGHT SIDE HITTER
Following the loss of an excellent outside hitter in 2010 graduate Diana Banya, the Red Storm's outside hitters will be led by Lukjanska, Kronbauer and a trio of newcomers in 2011. The only player to appear in all 110 sets last season, Lukjanska finished her first season with the Red and White with 237 kills, 217 digs and 28 service aces, while Kronbauer added 174 kills, 125 digs and a team-high 31 aces. Joining the seniors will be transfers Brennan Johnson and Yana Vavdiyuk, as well as true freshman Aleksandra Wachowicz. Johnson, who played two seasons at Siena College, picked up 57 kills, 30 digs and 11 blocks with the Saints, while Vavdiyuk and Wachowicz come from Ukraine and Poland, respectively. All three newcomers, as well as sophomore Kerri Johnson, will look to make a huge impact on the outside in 2011.
The 2011 St. John's volleyball schedule is highlighted by five in-season tournaments, which is the most since the 2004 season. The Red Storm will open its season in Annapolis, Md., to compete in Navy's Kristen Dickmann Invitational from Aug. 26-27, before competing in Michigan State's Spartan Showcase from Sept. 2-3.
STJ hosts the newly named St. John's Kaiser Classic from Sept. 9-10, where it welcomes Brown, Buffalo and Northeastern to Carnesecca Arena, before making the quick trip to the Bronx to compete in Fordham's Rose Hill Classic on Sept. 11. The final regular season tournament for the Red Storm will be the annual Columbia Invitational from Sept. 16-17.
St. John's opens BIG EAST play at Louisville (Sept. 23) and Cincinnati (Sept. 25), before hosting Syracuse (Oct. 1) and Marquette (Oct. 2) to open the month of October. STJ will then make a four-match BIG EAST road swing to USF (Oct. 9), Connecticut (Oct. 15), Georgetown (Oct. 21) and Villanova (Oct. 23). The Red Storm returns to Queens for matches with DePaul (Oct. 28), Notre Dame (Oct. 30), Pittsburgh (Nov. 4) and a senior day contest against West Virginia (Nov. 6). The squad closes its regular season campaign with short road trips to Seton Hall (Nov. 12) and Rutgers (Nov. 13).
The BIG EAST Conference Tournament will be held in Milwaukee, Wis., at Marquette University from Nov. 18-20. The last time the conference championship was at the Al McGuire Center the Red Storm claimed its first conference tournament crown with a 3-0 victory over Louisville on Nov. 18, 2007.
Follow all the home matches live via GameTracker (free) and StormTracker All-Access (subscription) on RedStormSports.com this season. Don't forget to check out the St. John's volleyball video blog for weekly updates, previews, postgame interviews and short video features. For twitter updates, follow @STJ_Volleyball and be sure to use and search the hashtag #stjvball throughout the entire season. If you would like to receive the most up-to-date information on the St. John's volleyball team please send your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.