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VOLLEYBALL: Win Over Harvard Closes Out New England Challenge For BC

For The Heights

Published: Monday, September 17, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

The Boston College volleyball team had a busy weekend at the New England Challenge Tournament, hosted at Northeastern University. The Eagles played three games over the course of Friday night and Saturday, which included losses to Northeastern and Connecticut, but also a decisive win over cross-town foe Harvard to finish the weekend.

Going into a tournament such as the New England Challenge requires slightly different preparation than going into normal ACC gameplay. With less than 24 hours between matches and the next opponent being determined on site, the team had to be flexible with its play in order to adapt the different styles of volleyball displayed by its competitors.

The first game against Northeastern on Friday night started out slow for the Eagles, who lost the first two sets 25-18 and 25-20. As head coach Chris Campbell put it, “We knew what we had to do to be successful after the first set. It just took us to the third to actually do it.”
With strong outside hitters on the Northeastern side, blocking and passing were important to BC as it pushed its way back into the match in the third set.

“They have strong players that are going to score points,” Campbell said. “We just can’t let them score easy points.”
In that way, defense becomes essential to the team’s success. Freshman Franny Hock, the defensive specialist or libero for the Eagles, had 15 digs. Other younger Eagles came up big as well. Sophomore Courtney Castle had 16 digs along with 22 kills, and freshman Katty Workman had 11 kills and contributed six digs to the Eagle defense. Improved defense and strong-hitting allowed BC to take the third set 25-20, but Northeastern countered in the fourth to walk away with a 3-1 victory.

On Saturday, the Eagles found themselves back on Solomon Court at Northeastern, this time taking on the UConn Huskies. With little time to prepare for their fast-tempoed opponent, the Eagles once again focused on limiting the productivity of Connecticut’s strong outside hitters. Workman was a big contributor with her 16 kills and 12 digs, and again Castle posted a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs.

Despite all the effort, however, the Eagles fell short, failing to capitalize on a 5-0 start in the first set to drop that one 25-20. The second set was close in the beginning, with the Eagles trailing by just one at 14-13. But Campbell noted that the team “didn’t serve tough enough, and didn’t pass well enough to run off the way we wanted to.”
The third set came down to the wire, actually going into extra points, but the team’s mantra of “make the easy plays easy” wasn’t executed in the end, and the Eagles dropped the set 27-25.

“We got a little nervous down the stretch, and towards the last couple points we made the easy plays hard,” Campbell explained.

After a disappointing 3-0 loss, BC still had one more match to round out the day against Harvard. Motivating a team for another game so shortly after a loss can be difficult, but in that area, Campbell is thankful for his young team.

“One of the difficulties is that they’re new to high pressure situations,” Campbell said. “But one of the advantages is that they recover pretty quickly. Motivation wasn’t a challenge.”
After a small adjustment to the rotation, the Eagles came back onto the court fighting, and improved passing and serving allowed them to soar past the Crimson in three decisive sets, defeating them for the sixth straight time. For the third time in the tournament, Castle registered a double-double and Calga Sen posted 39 assists as they led BC to 25-18, 25-19, and 25-17 set victories.

The team ended the weekend on a high note, and now is looking forward to road matches against Georgia Tech and Clemson next weekend. The Eagles’ win against Harvard reinforced the importance of executing their serving and serve receive. Though ACC play holds a slightly different tone to tournament play, Campbell said he knows that BC will have more time to prepare for these upcoming matches.

“As a whole, we know what we need to get better at when we’re going in and want to be successful in their gyms.”

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