St. John’s Outlasts Brown in Five Sets

Queens, N.Y.  – Despite three players in double-digit kills, the Brown volleyball team was edged 3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 12-25, 7-15) by St. John's in the fourth game of the Kaiser Classic at Carnesecca Arena. Rookie outside hitter Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) posted a match high 16 kills for the Bears (2-5), but it was not enough as the Red Storm (5-4) won the last two sets on their way to the win. 

The first set was a hard fought one by both squads as 10 points in, the score was deadlocked at five-all. It was the Bears who were able to string together the first run, using a 6-1 rush to take an 11-6 lead. However, the Red Storm hung tough though and eventually tied the score at 18. St. John's kept the pressure on and pushed to set point at 24-21. Lord was able to put a kill down to close within two, but STJ closed out the set on the next point.

Once again, the two teams were evenly matched through the first 12 points of the second set, and much as in the first, it was the Bears who opened up a lead first, using a 3-0 run which forced a St. John's timeout.

The call by Red Storm head coach Joanne Persico proved to be the right one as STJ used a 3-0 run of their own to tie it up again. After which the teams traded points with neither going up by more than two until a 4-0 run put the Bears up 19-14 and in control of the frame on their way to a 25-19 win. Sophomore Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) had eight kills in the set.

The third set may have been one of the most competitive frames of the entire tournament, with neither team opening more than a two-point advantage until the 20-point mark. It was Brown who was able to take control late, going up 20-17. The Red Storm fought back and closed within one at 23-22, but a kill from rookie Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and a service ace from Lord gave the Bears a 2-1 lead.

St. John's came out refocused in the fourth, pulling out to a 9-7 lead and the expanding to a 15-9 advantage which forced Bruno to burn its second timeout. The Red Storm offense continued to roll on their way to a 25-12 win and a deciding fifth set.

The Red Storm and All-BIG EAST Preseason selection Darlene Ramdin came out firing to start the final frame, taking a 7-3 lead. St. John's kept the pressure on  throughout and took the match 15-7.

For the game, Derrough (12 kills) and Bantle (11 Kills) joined Lord in double-digits. Sophomore setter Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) posted a double-double with 43 assits and 11 digs, while rookie Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.), making her first career start as the libero, finished with 16 digs.

Brown took on eventual St. John's Kaiser Classic champion Northeastern (7-2) in the final game of the invitational and was topped 3-0 (16-25, 19-25, 21-25). Bruno was able to make progressions in each set, but could not find a way to get past the Huskies.

Facing an undefeated Northeastern team in tournament play, the Huskies showed why in the first set, jumping out to an early 10-5 lead. Brown hung tough, staying within five until 15-10, when the Northeastern offense opened up a 4-0 run on their way to a 25-16 win.

The Huskies took an early 7-2 lead in the second, but Brown was able to battle back, closing within two at 8-6 on a block by Rieckhoff and a Northeastern error. The two-point Husky advantage held until 9-7, but NU used runs of 5-2 and 4-2 to open up an 18-11 lead. Brown was able to chip away and closed the gap to 22-18 with a run of their own, but kills by Lauryn Ciszek, Janelle Tucker and Nichole Kurz gave Northeastern a 2-0 lead. 

Despite facing an early 4-0 hole in the third set, the Bears clawed their way back into it and took the lead with a 5-0 run, capped by a service ace by Derrough. The lead would not last though, as the Husky offense sprinted ahead on their way to a 20-12 advantage.

Despite an eight-point deficit, Brown kept pushing and got a late 4-0 run to cut the lead in half. The teams traded eight points after the Bruno rush, and even after facing match point, the Bears were able to get one more score before Jasmine Marta was able to pick up the final kill 

Sophomore outside hitter Emma Pastore (Los Angeles, Calif.) led the Bears in the match with 11 kills.

The Bears will have five days off before hosting the 2011 Brown Invitational at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Friday and Saturday, September 16-17.

TOURNAMENT NOTES: Kathryn Conner, the team's defensive specialist and libero was named to the All-Tournament Team.