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Volleyball: St. John’s visits Central Connecticut

By David F.P. [Modest 2008 CCSU Volleyball Image Gallery]

NEW BRITAIN, CT-Two storms rolled through the Central Connecticut State University campus Wednesday night. The first, a thunder and rain storm swept across the night sky. The second, the Red Storm of St. John’s defeated Central Connecticut in 3 straight sets in their volleyball game. The score is misleading as it was not a one-sided affair at all, but the Red Storm picked up the victory when all was said and done.St. John’s by the way finished 13th in the National Rankings last year, and received votes in the rankings for the 2008 campaign as well. Central was coming off a 2-1 record following last weekends tournament held at Detrick Gymnasium.

Set 1 opened with with a flourish as SJU’s Valeria Kovaleva and Darlene Ramdin teammate combining on a block to put the visitors up 0-1. A set out of bounds by CCSU added a second point to their opponent’s lead, and St. John’s Ramdin spiked it in for another point. But Central fired back with a point to make it 1-3. Central’s Lauren Snyder then knocked a kill off the blockers to make it 2-3.Kovaleva tapped a ball over to put SJU up by 2 again. Snyder sent a smash off the defense and out of bounds, but the Red Storm’s Kun Song responded with a spike and it was 3-5.Song on the next play shot a blast down the right line for another point and it was 3-6. Chen Chen blocked a Central attack to enlarge the lead.St. John’s served out of bounds to end their run, and spiked a ball out of bounds to put Central back within 2, 5-7.

On the next play, CCSU’s Danielle Gasser had a great dig to set up a return and Amanda Olmstead had a good defensive save but there was some sort of error and SJU got the point to put the score at 5-8.Maite Mendizabal then came up big on a spike from her left to the defense’s right gap to regain the ball for central and close the gap to 6-8.Central served out of bounds on the next play, and Chen picked up another point for SJU with her spike from the net to bring the score to 6-10.St. John’s wasn’t done and Leszczynska faked a set and knocked the ball over for another point.Another Chen spike flew off the Blue Devils and out of bounds, and she followed it yet again with another kill. Time out was called at the 6-13 mark by CCSU.

When play resumed, Central hit a ball out of bounds, but benefited from SJU’s own error a play later.With the score 7-14, the ball was going back and forth.CCSU Libero Kaitlin Petrella had a good dig on the next rally, and Olmstead tapped the ball over and off the defense to make it 8-14. A serve out of bounds ended Central’s run though and it was 8-15. Central got right back into it with an Olmstead spike attack.It flew off the SJU blockers who both didn’t know where it went and it dropped still on their side to the floor.Amanda Bayer had a great defensive play for CCSU on the next exchange, but the team hit it out of bounds unfortunately and the point went to the Red Storm. An CCSU error and a misplayed ball later it and it was 9-18 St. John’s.

Petrella came up with a point next when she dug a ball and it flew over the net dropping in between all the SJU defenders. (Though I’m not sure why this isn’t reflected on the official play by play. The score seems to be a little different in the final scoring then it was during the match.) Olmstead had a great dig on the next play, but SJU picked up a point, when Song got a kill off the Central blockers. A two hit error by the blue and white put the set at 9-20.The Red Storm served out of bounds and then committed and error. Jamie Baumert then delivered a big block to put CCSU back within 8 (11-20). Ramdin set a ball to a gap in to the Blue Devil D for the 21st Red Storm point, and Song unleashed another kill. A CCSU spike into the net, a missed attack, and then another SJU attack won the set for the Red Storm. The last point came in part after St. John’s Libero Lena Yee had a great defensive save.

SJU shot out to a lead in set 2 following a Ramdin spike, a block by her on the next play, and Wioleta Leszczynska’s kill put them ahead 0-3.A Central attack out of bound added another Red Storm point.

The home team got on the board with an Olmstead and Snyder block, and an SJU error halved the lead on the next play.Kovaleva smashed an attack off the D for Red Storm point number 5. They gave up a point and the ball with a serve out of bounds after that, but on the next volley, despite a great dig from Olmstead, Ruisa Scheffel rained a spike down on the Central defense and it was 3-6. A furious lengthy battle occurred on the next point but Chen ended it with another kill.Casie Brooks then got in on the action for the Red storm with a kill of her own and a block on the next play.

With the set at 3-9 a time out was called.Central came out of the break with a Snyder smash off the diving defense, and a Red Storm error knocked their lead down to four.A spike across the court by SJU put it back at 5 on the next exchange though, and a CCSU error extended the lead to 6.On the next play, CCSU hit the ball over, it dropped onto the top of the net, and then rolled off landing on the St. John’s side for a point. Bayer hit a set while sideways over to a gap to make it 7-11, but a spike out of bounds put the score up at 7-12. The home team was ale to score on another spike next play though.Bayer then challenged an SJU player at the net and they both went up for the ball. She won he battle and it flew down to the floor.A missed set by the visitors put the Blue Devils within 2 (10-12.)

The next back and forth was a battle and once again SJU’s Libero, Yee, was making big plays including a save where she went airborne diving to make a save. The Red Storm picked up that point, and Ramdin shot a spike in following a good set.Kovaleva followed suit. It was now 10-15, but SJU served out of bounds.The momentary closing of the gap was widened when Ramdin blasted a spike off the Central defense which slammed into one of the video cameras sitting at the far end of the curt.Central responded with a massive spike, but the team spiked the ball out of bounds twice in row on ensuing plays.It was 13-17.Snyder attacked, and unleashed a ginormous spike which knocked the defender to the ground as it bounced off her and out of bounds drawing a roar from the Central crowd. Ramdin came back with an attack of her own off the Central block, and CCSU spiked out of boundsBaumert used the next exchange as an opportunity to spike a kill in which ricocheted off the defense and onto the scorer’s table nearly landing on a laptop if not for the scorer’s quick hands.

Scheffel came up with a kill knocked off the blockers and back to the floor, and a Central spike just out of bounds put the Red Storm 4 from victory, 15-21.Mendizabal attacked and shot a kill through the block to the floor, but Leszczynska picked up a point in return for her team.Kovaleva delivered a spike and then dropped a ball over the net for two straight points and a 16-24 lead. Baumert didn’t give up and tapped an attack into a gap in the far front defensive line, but the comeback ended on a Central miscue, 17-25.

All St. John’s had to do was win one more set and the game was there’s, but Central was in no mood to let them just walk away with a victory. The Red Storm scored first when Jordan Haskins sent a spike through the block for point 1, but a combination of Snyder’s attack and an SJU error tied it up.Another visitor error followed and Central had a 2-1 lead.Kovaleva was quick to fire back with a blast through the block to the defense’s left corner. She then served a ball which Central mis-set for the ace. A Snyder attack and another error by the Red Storm put the game back at 3-3.Snyder than served the ball, which hit the net and dropped between the defenders for the ace and the point.Tori Vaughan and Baumert combined on a big block following that for a 5-3 lead.A CCSU two hit error and a Chen spike from the net tied it up at 5, and Brooks put SJU in the lead 5-6 with her kill to the defense’s right corner floor.

Mendizabal hammered a big spike off the defense to the floor to tie things back up, though a serve out of bounds by the Blue Devils returned the lead to SJU.Baumert then used chicanery when she faked a spike and tapped an attack over to a gap.Leszczynska and Chen blocked a shot, and Central committed two straight attack errors to trail 7-10.

Bayer stood sideways and knocked a one handed put backer to a defensive gap on the following play, but Chen hammered an attack home, only to have her team serve out of bounds after that.Haskins and Leszczynska blocked another attack to keep the lead at 3.During the next back and forth SJU had a great save, and Yee added to it with another save of her own following it up with a roll, before Kovaleva’s huge spike sailed across the court and won another point for the storm. A time out was called.

The two teams swapped points and it was 10-14.Kovaleva again came through with a kill off the D out of bounds, but Snyder had her own spike just within the boundary lines, and Vaughan and Baumert combined again with a block. It was 12-15 when the Devils served into the net, but they were not done. SJU committed their own error, but Central knocked a ball out of bounds.St. John’s responded by spiking the ball into the net.Leszczynska then knocked a put backer into a gap.When the dust cleared it was 14-18 SJU.

Olmstead blasted a spike from her left to the front defensive right and off a defender out of bounds. She then followed that with another huge kill.Chen dropped an attack in from the net to return the lead to 3, but Bayer flew across the court on the next play jumping into the air and one handing a tap over to the floor.Snyder then kept the momentum up with a heater through the blockers.Vaughan and Olmstead finished the come back with a huge block setting off a cheer from the crowd as the 19-19 score flashed up. Time was called not surprisingly by St. John’s.

Kovaleva ended the run with a spike of her own just in bounds within the defense’s left corner. She had been very accurate with her dangerous smashes all night.Olmstead and Vaughan had their own response with a block, and Snyder’s spike took the lead for Central. Her next attack flew just in bounds to extend the lead, but SJU came right back with a point. It was Snyder again who unleashed a kill to the middle gap of the Red Storm defense. But a CCSU spike out of bounds gave the serve to Yee and her team. She sent her serve flying and it hit the net and dropped in despite a diving attempt.Time out was called by CCSU with the tie score 23-23.

Vaughan came out swinging after the TO and launched a shot across the defense’s front line. Central was one point away, but it was St. John’s turn not to give up and Chen blasted a spike in, followed by Leszczynska’s kill. Mendizabal tied things up with her own blast.Chen responded to take the lead back, and Leszczynska used a fake set to surprise the defense and tap the winning attack over St. John’s win the set 25-27 and the game 3-0.As the play by play shows Central was hanging in there and really seemed to be figuring out the SJU strategy in set 3.Not a bad job against a highly regarded program like St. John’s. Central also has continued their habit of being very hard to get rid of.No lead is necessarily safe with CCSU as has been shown in the past few matches so far.

(Scores checked against official play by play issued by Sports Information. Please do not redistribute with out permission.)

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