Fall, Volleyball

Volleyball’s Slide Continues with Winless Weekend

Seeking to improve its fortunes after a winless four-game road trip, Boston College volleyball returned home to Power Gym, looking to continue a 6-0 start at home against Miami and Florida State. At home, the Eagles have been a different team, playing with another level of intensity and passion. But this weekend, they looked more like the team that limped its way through a tough road slate, as poor hitting and untimely slow starts extended their losing streak to six.

The first set against Miami started well for the Eagles, as they leaped out to a 6-1 lead after an attack error by Kolby Bird forced a Hurricanes timeout. Following the break, Miami slowly climbed back into the set, as BC attack errors and timely kills from Haley Templeton and Bridget Wallenberger helped them finally draw even at 13-13. From there, the teams traded points, as Clare Naughton racked up four kills to pace the Eagles to a 20-17 lead before Miami crawled back to tie the set at 23-23 after a Elizaveta Lukianova kill. Naughton led BC with 10 kills. Miami was able to win the next two points, with Ally Mullen’s attack error giving the Hurricanes the first set, 25-23.

In the second frame, the Eagles once again rumbled out to an early advantage, jumping ahead, 3-0, on a McKenna Goss kill. But, much like in the first set, the Hurricanes rallied, knotting the frame at 7-7, thanks to a kill from Bird. Miami would keep the momentum going, snatching a 15-11 lead after an attack error, and the teams split the next 10 points. The Eagles continued to battle, as Cat Balido sparked a rally with a kill and then recorded back-to-back kills with Miami at set point to tie the teams at 24. BC couldn’t take a crucial lead, however, and Bird finished the set with a kill to give Miami the frame 26-24, and a 2-0 set advantage in the match.  

Seeking to rally, the Eagles desperately needed a fast start in the third set to help their chances. Unfortunately, just the opposite happened. Miami, hungry to close the match out, seized an 11-5 lead after Carly Kutschke’s service error. BC eventually cut its deficit to two after a kill from Jewel Strawberry made the score 15-13, but Miami wasn’t to be denied, winning three points in a row after Strawberry’s kill and fighting off one more BC rally to win both the set, 25-22, and, in the process, the match. Fittingly, the last point of the game ended with a Balido attack error. In one of their worst hitting performances of the season, the Eagles hit just .157 percent.

Unlike in the first set against Miami, the Eagles were immediately behind against Florida State. Kills from three different Seminoles put BC in a 5-2 hole, and after a kill from Payton Caffrey stretched the lead to 10-6, the Eagles were forced to call a timeout. The stoppage seemed to do BC some good, as back-to-back kills from Naughton sparked a 6-2 run that drew the Eagles even at 12-12 and made FSU call a timeout of its own.

After the second stoppage of the set, the Seminoles responded with a run of their own to go back up, 17-13. The teams traded points after that, until a kill from Jill Strockis left the Eagles trailing, 22-18, at an FSU timeout. BC managed to cut the deficit to 23-21 following an Ashley Murray attack error, but the Seminoles were able to close out the set, 25-21, after Murray made up for her error with a crucial kill.  

In the second frame, it was the Eagles who started fast, winning five points in a row to take a 6-2 lead after Goss and Balido recorded kills. FSU fought back with a 7-3 run, knotting the set at nine after a service error from Kelsey Wicinski, and the teams split the next 18 points.

A close set appeared to take a turn FSU’s way when the Seminoles went on a mini 4-2 run, but the Eagles managed to respond. Kutschke tied the frame at 22 with a kill and forced the Seminoles’ third timeout of the match. BC managed to keep the momentum going after the stoppage, partially due to some FSU sloppiness, as two attack errors and a bad set from Brianne Burkert gave BC the second set, 25-22, and evened the match at one frame apiece.  

The Eagles rolled out a 5-2 lead in the third set, but the Seminoles quickly responded and knotted up the set at 6-6. After that, the frame settled into a back-and-forth rhythm, as neither team was able to pull away. FSU finally gained some traction with a 17-15 lead after Caffrey’s kill, and BC called a timeout, but the Eagles used the timeout to regroup, tying the set at 19 with Ally Mullen’s kill. But from there, it was all Seminoles. They rattled off a 6-2 run, inspired by Christina Ambrose, to end the frame, 25-21.

FSU wrapped up the match in the next set. After winning four of the frame’s first five points, it extended its lead to 12-7 before an Eagles timeout. The stoppage only helped the Seminoles, who ran off six of the next 10 points prior to the next BC timeout and then doubled the Eagles up at 22-11 after Adrian Ell’s service ace. Goss and Strawberry both recorded two kills to draw the Eagles a little closer at 23-16, but the late surge wasn’t enough, as Burkert and Mariah Brim combined for one final block to seal the set, 25-17, and hand the Seminoles the match victory.

That’s now six consecutive losses for BC, and the shine of the best start in program history is continuing to fade. Though head coach Jason Kennedy has clearly had a positive impact on the team, his rebuild won’t be complete until the Eagles are able to win consistently in the ACC, and it’ll likely be at least another year before they’re able to accomplish that.

Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff

October 14, 2018