In a home opener that featured a raucous opening night atmosphere and an impressive performance from junior Amaka Chukwujekwu, Boston College volleyball defeated Duke to remain unbeaten in conference play. Head coach Jason Kennedy’s Eagles won in resounding fashion, cruising past the Blue Devils, 3-1.
The first set started a run of dominant defense for the Eagles (12-4, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) that seemingly never went away. With the score at 2-1 in the first set, Chukwujekwu recorded her first block of the game, denying a kill from Duke (7-9, 0-3) middle blocker Lily Cooper. BC turned this block into some momentum on the offensive end as well, rattling off five straight points. Chukwujekwu and freshman Gabby McCaa put an exclamation point on the first few minutes of action with a dominant block that sent echoes through Power Gym.
Duke had no choice but to call timeout. The Blue Devils would rebound with an ace on their next serve, finding an open gap on a cross-court shot, but this meant little to the Eagles. They would go on to win the first set, 25-19, after a pair of kills from Chukwujekwu and an incredible dig by Makenzie Morrison.
Duke regrouped in the second frame, making BC earn every point. Chukwujekwu was also stellar during the set, but the true story of the frame was Blue Devils sophomore Ade Owokoniran. Owokoniran logged four kills, two coming on consecutive plays to give Duke a 16-13 lead. BC would pull within two points to make the set, 21-19, in favor of Duke, but the Eagles then committed two service errors allowing Duke to seal the frame, 25-21.
The third set was nothing short of brilliant for Chukwujekwu and Clare Naughton, as the two combined for a total of eight kills. Duke seemingly had no answer. With each point, BC moved the frame further and further out of reach, stringing together an 8-1 run to extend its lead to 10 points. Duke challenged a call on an Eagles block that went out of bounds but was stymied again, as the call was upheld and BC won the point. Any hope of a comeback seemed to end there for the Blue Devils.
The fourth set was where the wheels came off the bus for the Blue Devils. Duke let in three aces and committed three service errors. The Blue Devils also lost a challenge when BC’s Madison McKnight managed to record a dig off her foot, as the play was ruled in favor of BC again. Duke also experienced some wildly inaccurate digs that sent balls into the ceiling and the wall behind the bench. The situation was made worse by the determined play of Chukwujekwu and the game-winning kill by Izzy Clavenna.
BC couldn’t have hoped for better play in a home opener. Kennedy seems to have something going with this Eagles team. After losing two of its first three games against difficult opponents in Oregon, BC has rebounded to win 11 of its last 13 games. The Eagles have also won their first three conference games for the first time in program history and look to keep the streak going against Wake Forest on Sunday. Chukwujekwu stepped up on Friday, but BC also has the likes of Jewel Strawberry, McKnight, and Naughton to keep the momentum in full swing.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor