Fall, Volleyball

Volleyball Battles Back to Sweep Boston College Tournament

It appeared to be a case of déjà vu. For the second time in as many nights, Boston College volleyball found itself at the bottom of an uphill climb. While it was playing competitive volleyball, BC was going into the fourth set down two sets to one. The sets against UMass Lowell had been tight to this point, with the largest margin of victory only being four points. Despite a second set win, the Eagles struggled to separate themselves from the River Hawks, and were now facing a daunting task: needing to win two consecutive sets in order to win the match and stay undefeated in their own tournament.

While this may be a tough position for many teams to be in, the Eagles had been in this exact position the night before. So BC took a page out of its own playbook and stormed back in the fourth set. They jumped out to a quick 20-12 lead during the set. UMass Lowell was forced to call two timeouts in order to try and contain the Eagles’ onslaught, but nothing the River Hawks did was enough to slow down the Eagles. BC won the fourth set decisively 25-18, but this swing of momentum still did not guarantee an addition in the win column for the Eagles. BC had won the tight second set, but the River Hawks had come right back to win the third set.

Lead changes were the main theme of the fifth set, as both teams had opportunities to go on a big run and win the set. Instead, BC and UMass Lowell found themselves tied at 13 points, then at 14, then at 15, and for the last time at 16, until two errors from the River Hawks granted the Eagles their second five-set win in two days, and on the season.

BC found its rhythm late in the match, emphasized by its .333 hitting percentage in the fourth set, and their .458 in the fifth set. Julia Topor again led the way for the Eagles, registering her 10th career double-double with 16 kills and 12 digs, and leading all players for both teams in kills. She was named the MVP on Saturday night after the conclusion of the tournament.

After a tough Friday night match that saw them pushed to the brink, the Eagles welcomed their Saturday morning match against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights. BC cruised past the Knights in three sets, conceding 42 points while racking up 75.

The Eagles won the first five points of the match, leading to a 12-3 run to start off their day. BC then extended its lead to 17-5, prompting the Knights to call their second timeout of the set. It was not much longer before BC won the first set easily, 25-12.

The second set started off with a little drama, as neither team started hot, until BC went on a 7-0 run, followed shortly by a 9-3 run, and culminating in the Eagles winning the set 25-13. The third set started off even closer, until the Eagles jumped out to a 12-8 lead and never conceded. BC swept the Knights, winning the third set 25-17. Freshman Jill Strockis tallied 18 kills in 25 attempts, for an outstanding hitting percentage of .519. BC as a team had a hitting percentage of .390 for the match, highlighted by its .480 in the first set.

On Friday night, the Eagles beat the Rider University Broncs in five sets, the first win of this kind for BC. The Eagles lost the first set 25-14, after a hot start that saw BC up 4-0, punctuated by a Camille Oemcke ace. The Broncs then went on a 8-3 run of their own, tying the game at five, and then went up 11-8. BC struggled to find its groove and lost the first set after Rider went on another big run, this one 11-2.

The second set was much tighter from BC, but Rider also upped its game, and it was close going into the first timeout. However, BC put forth an impressive .448 hitting percentage that ultimately provided the difference in the set. The Eagles took the second set 25-20, and kept that momentum going into the third set. Topor was the catalyst for an 8-3 run for the Eagles, contributing two kills and a solo block. The third set saw Rider call two timeouts to try and contain the Eagles, but BC’s aggressive style of play led them to win the set 25-14.

Despite being down two sets to one, the Broncs did not go away easily, and they were able to squeak past BC 25-23 in the fourth set. There were multiple ties and lead changes as the Eagles attempted to put the match away, while Rider was trying to stay alive. BC rallied and was able to tie the match at 23, but could not find that extra push, and the match went to the fifth and decisive set.

With the fifth set only going up to 15 points, the Eagles knew that they had to get out to an early lead, and they did, going up 3-1. BC was unable to sustain its lead, and throughout the set no team was able to open up a lead of more than two points. Rider had a match point at 14-13, but the Eagles put up an impressive fight to tie the set and then pull out the win, 16-14.

The Eagles were able to display a wide range of their talents in the Boston College Tournament, ranging from a blowout sweep to two nail-biting thrillers. Unlike its last tournament, in which BC faltered down the stretch, there was no disappointing ending to this weekend. The Eagles’ impressive tournament sweep should give them confidence as they go into matches against in-state rivals Harvard, which has been slumping lately, and Northeastern, which is on an upswing after an early losing streak.

Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff

September 11, 2016