WEST POINT, N.Y. - St. John's junior Brunna Kronbauer led all players with 24 kills to lead the visiting Red Storm in a 3-2 victory over the Army volleyball team in the final match of the Army Invitational at Gillis Field House on Saturday evening. Sophomore OH Ariana Mankus and freshman OH D.J. Phee led the Black Knights with 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
A battle of momentum all match long, it was St. John's (3-1) recording a decisive 15-7 win in the fifth and deciding set to win the tournament. Army (2-2) rebounded from a 25-16 loss in the opening set to claim a thrilling 28-26 win in the second set. The Red Storm went on to collect a 25-16 win in the third, while Army was able to force a fifth set with a 25-20 win in the fourth.
The Black Knights totaled a season-high 16 blocks on the night, led by senior MB Amanda Rowell and freshman MB Megan Wilton with seven and six, respectively. Senior S Karyn Powell totaled 41 assists, while senior L Brittany Jensen led all players with 19 digs.
St. John's ran out to a 14-9 run early in the match and never looked back from there. The Black Knights cut the deficit to three (16-13) on a Mankus kill, but the Red Storm countered with a 7-0 to put the first set out of Army's reach.
The Black Knights recovered in the second set, battling point-for-point throughout. Army jumped out to a commanding 16-10 lead midway through the action. The Red Storm proceeded to use a 9-3 run to level the score at 19-all on a Kronbauer kill. The teams went on to play through six more ties before the set's end. Kills from Phee, Powell and Mankus put Army in position to serve for set-point leading 27-26 after a St. John's miscue. The Black Knights secured the win when Rowell teamed with sophomore RS Samantha Starta to block Kronbauer's attempt.
St. John's recovered in a hurry, cruising out to a comfortable 16-9 run in the third session. Army would pull within five (19-12) on a kill from Phee, but that was the closest Army would get the rest of the way as St. John's went up 2-1 with a 25-16 third-set win.
Tough serving from both teams opened the fourth set and it was Army taking an 8-6 lead after Jensen served for four consecutive points. The score seesawed from there, playing through eight ties and five lead changes. After a St. John's kill leveled the score at 18-18, Army made its move with a decisive 7-2 run to close the set. Powell served for two of those points, while Mankus also recorded a kill.
St. John's came out firing on all cylinders in the fifth as the Red Storm jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Army would never recover as the St. John's offense took over. The Black Knights managed just four kills to the Red Storms' nine kills in the final set.
Army continues tournament play as the team travels to George Mason to take on the host Colonials, UNC Charlotte and West Virginia this weekend. The Black Knights will face George Mason on Friday, Sept. 3, while taking on UNC Charlotte and West Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 4.