VOLLEYBALL: Strong Start Shows Glimpse Of Bright Future For Volleyball
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Boston College athletics has seen its share of change in the past few years, with coaches coming in and out across many of the teams. There appears to be one team that has righted the rebuilding ship, however, and seems set to make the next step in 2012—head coach Chris Campbell’s volleyball squad.
“There will be more matches this year that we will be legitimately competitive in, and we have enough tools on the roster now that people have to plan for us,” Campbell said. “We’re not going to go out there and run the table, but I think for the first time in a long time we have a team that has the possibility of winning on any given night.”
Considering the team’s 7-24 record in 2011, which included an 11-game losing streak to close the season, this is quite a statement. For Campbell, who is in his third season leading the Eagles, progress has been slow and steady. The team finished 1-19 in ACC play in 2010, improving slightly to 3-24 in 2011.
But after early season play, it appears that the seven wins of last year are a mark that can, and perhaps will, be easily met.
The Eagles opened the season at home as the host of the BC Invitational Tournament, where they went an impressive 3-1. These included wins over the likes of big programs such as Binghamton (3-0), Siena (3-1), and Fordham (3-0).
The final match of the tournament saw them drop a heartbreaker to an experienced Texas Tech squad. BC led the match two sets to none, but squandered the next three sets and fell 3-2. But even then, there were positives to be taken from a devastating loss such as this one.
“That’s probably one that you carry with you for the rest of your life,” Campbell commented on the loss. “We were playing well, up two-to-nothing in sets, but by the end of the second we had become quite one-dimensional. Tech made an adjustment to take advantage of it, and we were too young to get offense from other spots. We’re going to get better. That won’t happen to us again.”
Following the strong showing at its own tournament, the team headed west for the USC Tournament. There they managed a 3-1 victory over Mississippi State, while dropping two matches to No. 23 Northern Iowa and No. 5 USC.
For the USC match in particular, the Eagles showed a lot of progress as they took a game off of a Trojan team that had reached the Final Four just last season. In another game, BC had a game service opportunity, but let it slip away. Yet Campbell still took positives from the loss.
“The challenge for us in that match was to make sure that it was being dictated by what we’re good at, not by what [USC] is good at,” Campbell said. “And we were successful at that in two games.”
These two tournaments have brought the Eagles to their current 4-3 record, and individually the young squad has shown flashes of impressive progress. Freshman outside hitter Katty Workman earned All-Tournament honors in both competitions, and certainly will be one to watch on this squad for the 2012 campaign.
In addition, captains Krystle Higgins (senior) and Kellie Barnum (sophomore) have done a phenomenal job of leading a team that features only two seniors.
With teams potentially able to catch onto the dynamic Workman, additional pressure will be placed on sophomore Courtney Castle. Listening to Campbell speak, this is certainly a pressure that will not be an issue for anyone on his squad.
“We’ve got a lot of offensive weapons,” Campbell said. “Courtney Castle is as solid as anybody in the conference, and I think we’ve got a couple players on the right [side] who will be able to develop. But we’re still young, so it’s not going to happen in one day, but that’s the goal over the course of the season.”
With their ACC schedule starting in just over two weeks, the Eagles will need help from anywhere they can get it. In a conference that Campbell considers as many as 10 out of 12 programs to have moving toward elite, BC will need to show that it can build on its early season success.
If the first seven matches are any indication, the Eagles are right on track.