Sports, Fall, Volleyball

Eagles Squander Lead, Fall in Five Sets to Notre Dame

Fresh off a win over conference heavyweight Louisville on Friday night, Boston College volleyball entered a Sunday matinee with Notre Dame hoping to complete a perfect weekend after splitting games in three straight weekends.

Through three sets, the Eagles seemed headed for that, winning the third with relative ease to take a decisive 2-1 lead. Then, just like that, the momentum dissipated and the Irish won the fourth set to force a tiebreaker, then comfortably cruised to a 15-5 victory to hand BC a 3-2 setback.

The Eagles (17-8, 8-4 ACC) were paced by 18 kills from Jewel Strawberry, while Cat Balido and Amaka Chukwujekwu contributed 14 and 11, respectively. The hosts started out with a lot of momentum in the first set, beating Notre Dame (16-6, 9-3 ACC), 25-21. 

The second set is where things really started to heat up. The score was tight, with a slim two-point difference for nearly the entire set. Chukwujekwu and Strawberry were the major scorers with three and two kills, respectively. Both teams showed full effort on the court, but mistakes were being made. BC had a missed set into the net and had trouble combatting Notre Dame’s small tips just over the net, making it hard for the Eagles to return. Despite closing it to 22-21, BC couldn’t complete a rally, with a kill from Charley Niego and an attack error handing the Irish a 25-22 win.

The Eagles came back in the third set, beating the Irish 25-13. Clare Naughton and Chukwujekwu both had five kills, while Strawberry chipped in with three. Despite a missed serve into the net and one out of bounds, BC played really well, displaying full effort and chasing after every ball. It was only towards the end of the fourth set when things started to spiral downhill.

The Eagles offense executed well in the first half of the fourth set, but lost momentum toward the end and handed the lead back over to the Irish. Naughton had three kills, while Chukwujekwu and Balido each had two—but five attack errors were committed by BC along with a few other ball handling and service errors. That contributed to a six-point swing for Notre Dame, who took a decisive lead and eventually won, 25-19, behind back-to-back kills from Sydney Bent. When the fifth and final set came along, things took a turn for the worse for the hosts.

The Eagles couldn’t seem to keep up with the Irish in the last set, committing a total of five errors in a shorter set. It was evident that as the play went on, BC’s enthusiasm faded and affected its execution both offensively and defensively. Notre Dame won comfortably—by 10 points—and handed the Eagles their first five-set loss of the year.

Despite the mistakes and setbacks—including missed serves into the net and strikes out of bounds quite a few times—the Eagles put up a good fight for the duration of the entire match. Both teams were energetic and kept a competitive edge during game play. The crowd also played a role in making the competition an exciting environment. Due to the fact that it was high school day, many fans stood up cheering for the Eagles and boosted their confidence throughout the entire match.

While it was a frustrating defeat, head coach Jason Kennedy’s side hung with—and had a chance to win against—one of the top teams in the conference standings. The Irish pulled out a difficult road victory, but BC has shown an ability to bounce back and will be primed to do so against Syracuse and Virginia Tech next weekend.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff

November 3, 2019