Sports, Fall, Volleyball

BC Avoids Blowing Two-Set Lead, Beats North Carolina State

The last time Boston College volleyball won at least 16 games was way back in 2004. A dreary stretch followed, sinking as low as a seven-win campaign in 2017 in Chris Campbell’s last year at the helm. Now, with head coach Jason Kennedy in his second year, the Eagles are surging and showcasing impressive resilience day in and day out.

On Friday night, that was on full display as BC took the first two sets from host North Carolina State only to watch the Wolfpack storm back and take the next two. The fourth set, which leveled the scoreboard, saw the Eagles commit six errors while the Wolfpack was flawless. But, instead of folding and taking a tough loss, BC rallied behind Jewel Strawberry and took the tiebreaker, winning, 15-11, to hit the 16-win mark with nine games to play.

Strawberry racked up 18 kills in the win for the Eagles (16-6, 7-2 Atlantic Coast), who have taken their last two conference games after dropping matches to Pittsburgh and Florida State. N.C. State (8-13, 3-6) boasted the formidable duo of Jessica Kemp and Jade Parchment, who combined for 36 kills, but managed half as many blocks as BC and committed four more errors.

It didn’t look like it was going to go five sets in the beginning, as the Eagles seemed as if they were on a mission in Raleigh. Leading, 10-9, in the first set, BC promptly went on a 7-1 run, taking a firm control of the lead. The sequence featured a pair of Strawberry kills and a service ace from Jane DeJarld, who had 24 assists in the win. The Wolfpack got it as close as seven after consecutive kills from Parchment, but BC closed with a trio of points—all coming on Madison McKnight assists—to win, 25-14.

The second set followed a similar path, with the teams battling early before the Eagles broke it open with a 6-1 run to take a 15-7 lead. The lead stretched to as big as eight, but N.C. State showed more fight this time around. Trailing, 23-14, after Parchment was blocked by Cat Balido and Carly Kutschke, N.C. State rattled off four straight points. Then, after BC got it to set point, Kemp came up with a kill to close the Wolfpack deficit to five points. An inspired stand wouldn’t follow, though, as Mackenzie Fuhrmann, a sub, came through with the kill to secure a 25-19 set victory.

That late push from N.C. State carried over to the next two sets, as the Wolfpack was determined not to take a shutout on its home court. Parchment and Kemp guided N.C. State to a quick 4-0 lead, but the Eagles were up for the challenge, and the teams traded points until a 12-12 deadlock. From there, the Wolfpack went on a 7-0 run to take a comfortable lead, but BC came right back and eventually tied it up at 24 apiece on a Clare Naughton kill. N.C. State answered, though, as Kemp came up with a kill. On set point, it was fittingly Parchment who registered the kill to lock up a 26-24 win. 

Momentum firmly in hand, the Wolfpack dominated the fourth frame, winning, 25-12. It was the most lopsided set of the afternoon and featured an ugly effort from the Eagles, as they hit just 0.103 and committed six errors against nine kills. N.C. State, meanwhile, didn’t commit an error and hit an impressive .500 to set up the fifth set. Logic suggested that the Wolfpack was prime for the come-from-behind win, and it seemed that way out of the gate when it built a quick 3-0 lead.

The Eagles weren’t rattled, going on a four-point run of their own to swing the momentum back in their favor. A block and a kill from Balido gave BC a 8-5 lead, and that created enough breathing room for the Eagles. They were content to just trade points with N.C. State the rest of the way before Strawberry came up with the decisive kill in the 15-11 set win.

BC has now won back-to-back five-set matches and is additionally a perfect 6-0 in such games. It’s a testament to Kennedy’s team, as they’re able to hang in there and grind out victories. While the fourth set was a frustrating one for the Eagles, they managed to quickly forget about it and get the job done. 

BC is now just four games shy of the 20-win mark, which has happened just once in program history—back in 2004. With nine games to go, the Eagles are more than capable of setting a program record for wins in just the second year of Kennedy’s stay, which is simply remarkable.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

October 26, 2019