Fall, Volleyball

Season in Review: 2017 Volleyball

Since joining the ACC in 2005, Boston College volleyball has suffered nothing but a steady stream of disappointing seasons—and the latest campaign didn’t stray from the well-worn path. Despite the conference failing to place a single RPI top-25 team, the ACC still managed to roll over the Eagles. BC limped to just four conference wins, the 11th-consecutive season doing so, and ended head coach Chris Campbell’s tenure with a paltry 7-23 record.

Campbell, who resigned after the season’s completion, finished with just 26 conference wins and a trio of double-digit win seasons across eight years. The Eagles’ program hasn’t found success, let alone pulled close to a .500 season, since it finished four games under in 2007. That was with head coach Andrea Leonard, who resigned two years later and eventually moved on to Cal State San Marcos—a program she has since built from the ground up.

New Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond didn’t waste time in replacing Campbell, settling on Southern California transplant Jason Kennedy. He spent the last three years with the Trojans, with the team reaching the NCAA Tournament in each year. A much more difficult task awaits him in Chestnut Hill, where the final year of Campbell was nothing short of shaky.

The Eagles kicked off the season by posting wins in two of their first five games, sparking some hope with home victories over Alabama-Birmingham and Bryant. They went on to drop two straight and then fell behind in the first set against Delaware—but instead of crumbling, BC rallied to win three-straight sets and claim the match. Its success was short-lived. The Eagles embarked on a pair of lengthy losing streaks, dropping six and five in a row, the lone bright spots wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson.

After piling up losses, the season eventually ended in painful fashion. Taking on Notre Dame in the friendly confines of Power Gym, the Eagles dropped the first two sets by a combined four points—even leading, 23-22, in the second before faltering. The third and final set, ending the season, was especially tough, as the Irish rushed out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back. It was another shaky end to another shaky season for BC, as the program has yet to find any solid footing in years.

Still, optimism remains. Losing graduate transfer Lynn Braakhuis and her team-high 337 points and 299 kills will hurt, but an experienced core remains. Sophomore right setter Cat Baldio broke out and appeared in all 30 games, logging the second-most kills (286) on the team. Another rising junior, Jill Strockis, continued to impress—she followed up a strong freshman season with a move to libero and promptly posted a team-high in digs and service aces. The group is rounded out by the top two in assists in Jane DeJarld and Camille Oemcke, the leader in blocks in Amaka Chukwujekwu, and a talented contributor in McKenna Goss.

With a loaded junior class and enough leadership remaining, Kennedy has a strong base to build upon. The seven-win 2017 season was a tough one for the Eagles to suffer, and even though a core returns, only time will tell if Kennedy and Co. can crack the code of the ACC—a solution that has eluded BC since it arrived to the conference.

Featured Image by Jacob Catania / Heights Staff

November 30, 2017