On Sunday afternoon, Boston College volleyball wrapped up its four-game road stretch with a matchup at North Carolina. The Eagles, who picked up two conference wins this past week, came into the match sitting at fourth place in the league standings, having just broken the program record for ACC victories in a single season. Errors and missed opportunities left the Eagles playing from behind in a match UNC controlled from start to finish, however, resulting in a humbling straight-set defeat for BC.
UNC (10-10, 7-3 Atlantic Coast) looked confident in the early stages of the match. In the first set, a kill by Tar Heels freshman Carly Peck knotted the score at six and opened a run of four straight points for UNC, which would go on to win eight of the next 10 points to jump out to a 13-8 lead.
While scoring went back and forth for the rest of the set, thanks to strong play by BC (16-7, 7-3 Atlantic Coast) seniors Cat Balido and Jane DeJarld—who connected for three kills—the Eagles were never able to overcome the early deficit. BC errors near the end of the set ended any hope of a comeback, and UNC took a 25-17 first-set victory.
In the second frame, flashes of brilliance from the Eagles were overshadowed by their inability to stunt UNC scoring runs. Tar Heels freshman Parker Austin had eight kills in the set, and the hosts only trailed early by three points. Mistakes proved costly for the Eagles, who committed eight errors in the second set in a match where they had 18 compared to UNC’s 10. That led to an even more lopsided 25-16 setback in the second set.
The Tar Heels were able to put the match nearly out of reach early in the third frame. After dropping the first two points, UNC went on an impressive 8-0 run, opening up a lead which would prove insurmountable for the Eagles. Although play evened out the rest of the way, BC lost the set, 25-20, marking a straight set win for the hosts.
The Eagles had a hard time finishing plays and ended the match with a hitting percentage of just .208, their lowest mark since starting conference play. UNC, on the other hand, had 45 kills to just 10 attack errors, and finished the match with a scorching .343 hitting percentage. In the match, the Tar Heels were led by Austin, who finished with 16 points—this is the third time this season she has reached at least that number. BC was led by sophomore Jewel Strawberry, who had 10 kills, and DeJarld, who finished with a match-high 20 assists.
Looking forward, BC is about to embark on a four-game homestand, starting with two tough matches against Louisville (Friday) and Notre Dame (Sunday), the second and third-best teams in the ACC standings, respectively. Stealing wins against these opponents is certain to be a priority for the Eagles, as doing so would put the Eagles near the top of the conference table and give BC invaluable momentum heading into the tail end of the season.
Every team faces hiccups away from home, and bouncing back will be a matter of putting Sunday’s three-set loss in the rear view mirror and quickly focusing on the road ahead.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor