Sports, Fall, Volleyball

BC Pushes Conference Win Streak to Five Against Virginia

After downing conference foes Clemson, Georgia Tech, Duke, and Wake Forest en route to a program-best 4-0 start to ACC play and the third spot in the league standings, Boston College volleyball sought to keep the momentum going against Virginia on Friday night, and that’s exactly what it did.

The Eagles battled through three closely contested sets, eventually securing a sweep of the Cavaliers to remain perfect in conference competition.

“We wanted to get off to a better start than we did last weekend,” head coach Jason Kennedy said. “In the first two sets of each match, we got off to a little bit of a shaky start.”

BC (14-4, 5-0 ACC) came out strong, holding a powerful UVA (9-9, 1-4 ACC) offense at bay. Throughout the first set, neither the Eagles nor the visiting Cavaliers posted a lead of more than three points at any time. 

The game opened with a Virginia service error by Kristen Leland, swinging the momentum to BC early, but the Cavaliers were quick to counter. The teams traded kills and remained within two points of each other until a BC error expanded Virginia’s lead to 20-17.

The Eagles rallied, though, feeling the urgent need to bring the game back to their side of the court. Led by three consecutive blocks by junior Amaka Chukwujekwu, BC regained the lead late in the set and eventually went on to win off two consecutive kills by sophomore outside hitter Jewel Strawberry. 

Chukwujekwu ended the night with a team-high 12 kills and four blocks, while Strawberry tallied 10 kills and one block. 

The second set sang a slightly different tune than the first: After the break, Virginia looked much more in control of the offense. Though the teams stayed even in score, the Cavaliers were quick to capitalize on BC errors. Eventually, UVA began to pull away.

“We had a tough time slowing Virginia down up the middle a little bit,” Kennedy said. “So that was a little worrisome. That’s one thing we’ll certainly take a look at and see where we can be a little bit better.”

Down, 12-7, BC’s largest deficit of the night, the Eagles fought back to tie the score at 16 off a few costly Virginia errors and two strong kills by Jill Strockis. Then, the tide began to turn. 

BC stayed within one point of their opponents until another kill by Chukwujekwu gave the Eagles a lead on set point. Two consecutive Virginia attack errors sealed the deal, and BC went into the break with a full head of steam. 

The Eagles broke out as an offensive power in the third set, going up, 6-2, taking the largest set lead of the game. They kept pushing, playing off of their own successes and Virginia’s attacking errors. BC brought the lead to 18-10, and it looked like it had the match in the bag. 

The Cavaliers were not willing to go down without a fight. In fact, they clawed back to within three, but the Eagles’ play at the net, notably from senior Cat Balido, proved too much for UVA, and two consecutive kills from Balido sealed the deal for BC.

Though any strong stretch is important for morale, Kennedy isn’t worried about how this winning streak will affect the team’s future play.

“We’re not really worried about being 4-0, or 5-0 or whatever it is,” Kennedy said. “We want to take it one game at a time.”

Still, the Eagles have never surpassed five conference wins in a season but are well poised to do so—which is something to celebrate in and of itself.

Featured Image by Kait Devir / For The Heights

October 12, 2019