By Robert Balajadia
On the last game of the season, the St. John’s Knights spoiled the return of ND Royals’ Destiny Castro Monday night by beating them in three sets 26-28, 25-20, 25-20 at the Knights gym. Castro went to St. John’s her freshman year, but is now at ND as a sophomore.
It has been a memorable finish to the season for the Knights as they took down top rated teams in Southern, Sanchez, and now the Royals, proving that they are going to be a tough team in the playoffs.
The Knights and Royals battled to a 15-point tie in the third set before the Knights, behind serving from Kristina Folta, went on a late run to pull ahead 20-16. Castro and the Royals responded with an acrobatic kill to trim the lead 20-18 before Knights head coach Chris Shepherd called a time out.
The Royals managed to get as close as one point, 21-20, before the Knights closed out the game on a 4-0 run. Knights’ Adriana Chang picked up a nice kill to extend the lead 23-20, sucking the momentum away from the upstart Royals.
“Being our last home game of course we want to win this, but we have to look at every team at the same level. We can’t underestimate anyone and we always have to come out and play our hardest,” stated team captain Crisi Iglesias on the win.
After dropping an exciting first set, Iglesias and the Knights responded by taking a quick 4-0 lead in the second. The lead would fluctuate as Castro and Menuka Taisipic picked up kills to tie the set at eight.
The Knights battled through, getting kills from Folta, Chang, and Allyson Chiu to grab a 20-15 lead. ND fought back behind the serving of Caley Chargualaf to trim the lead 21-9, but the Knights capitalized on late Royal mistakes to pull away 25-20.
Castro got the final kill in the 28-26 first set win which gave the Royals the early momentum. However, Iglesias and the Knights made the right defensive adjustments to keep Castro from taking over.
Knights’ team captain Iglesias was one of the seniors possibly celebrating their last home game of the season. Iglesias played a vital part in the win against the Royals and she has her team ready for the upcoming playoffs no matter who they go up against.
“Our coach always keep the “Three C’s” in mind, which are confidence, consistency, and communication. Through out the season, we just need to keep that in mind and we will play our best,” said Iglesias on her teams strong finish.
St. John’s appears to be peaking at the right time, and with the playoffs tipping off this weekend, The Knights are looking as good as any team all season.
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