After losing back-to-back matches against conference opponents Pittsburgh and Florida State—which spoiled a perfect start to conference play—Boston College volleyball got back on track with a dramatic 3-2 win at Miami on Sunday. It was far from comfortable, as the Eagles had to battle through five closely-contested sets and erase a 2-1 deficit, but the result was their first victory over the Hurricanes since 2007—snapping an 18-match losing streak against them—and the most conference wins (6) recorded in program history.
Offensively, the Eagles (15-6, 6-2 Atlantic Coast) outplayed Miami (8-8, 4-4), hitting at a .253 clip compared to the Hurricanes’ .183 mark. Miami also committed six more errors than BC in the loss, and that proved to be enough of a difference in a match that had slim margins. BC was paced by Jewel Strawberry, who boasted 18 kills and 12 digs on the day, while Clare Naughton similarly flourished with 14 kills. Of late, Strawberry and Naughton have emerged as a powerful offensive duo.
On the defensive side, Strawberry was dynamic as well, tallying a total of 12 digs. Jane DeJarld helped support Strawberry with 12 digs of her own. With 16 blocks in total, the Eagles’ defense provided a necessary boost in the contest—which proved to be the fifth such five-set win that BC has managed to come away with this season.
After a back-and-forth first set, the Eagles were able to secure a 25-16 victory. Strawberry shifted momentum to the BC bench early with two consecutive aces. After a mid-set rally from the Hurricanes, though, the score was close at 17-14. The Eagles were still able to hold onto the lead and pulled away in the final plays of the set.
The second frame provided a much different storyline, as Miami began to control the momentum. After a scorching start, the Hurricanes led the second set with a comfortable 8-1 advantage. The Eagles struggled throughout the rest of the set, committing several mistakes, and even a late surge wasn’t enough, as Miami won the set by a score of 25-19.
In the third frame, which was back-and-forth like the first, Miami and BC traded points early. After a slight Miami surge and immediate recovery from Strawberry and the Eagles, the score was tied at 21. Regardless, Miami logged the victory after claiming four of the final six points. With a kill from freshman Kennedy Prince, Miami won the set by a score of 25-23. At that point, the Hurricanes had itself a 2-1 match lead over the Eagles going into the fourth set.
Yet BC would not fold, and with its backs against the wall, it battled through a tight fourth set. After a six-point tie to start, each team contributed back-and-forth rallies through the middle of the set, leading to a 17-17 tie. From there, Miami rallied, tallying four straight points for a 21-17 lead. The Eagles rallied back, however, and forced the set into extra points. BC ultimately pulled away with a gutsy 28-26 set victory to even the match.
In the decisive fifth set, the Eagles did not look back, jumping out to an impressive 6-2 lead. BC continued with its early set success, ultimately winning the frame, 15-8, as well as the match.
The record-setting day in terms of conference success is even more impressive when you consider the fact that the Eagles have 10 games left—and they’ve already matched last year’s 15-win total. It’s already a successful season for head coach Jason Kennedy and BC, as the team has clearly taken the next step. Now all that’s left is to see how far they can go.
The Eagles have a two-game swing through North Carolina with matchups against the Tar Heels and North Carolina State up next, and with both teams holding sub-.500 record on the year, BC has a good chance to keep rewriting the school’s record books.
Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / For The Heights