Entering a Sunday afternoon matchup against Wake Forest, Boston College volleyball likely felt confident about its chances to beat the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest entered the match on an 11-game losing streak, and in last place in the ACC.
Despite this, the Eagles certainly got all they could handle. The Demon Deacons put up a fight, out-hitting the Eagles .212 to .165, and taking a one-set lead twice. Eventually, however, BC prevailed in five sets to extend its winning streak to two games.
The Eagles (19-9, 10-5 Atlantic Coast) were paced by Jewel Strawberry’s 12 kills, while Naughton and Cat Badilo recorded 10 kills apiece. Strawberry and Gabby McCaa controlled two blocks between them, and Strawberry managed a match-best .370 attack percentage. Offensively, Jane DeJarld served three aces and logged a team-best 25 assists.
Wake Forest (11-15, 1-14 Atlantic Coast) took the first set, 25-18, and the third set, 25-16. Yet, each time, BC responded, taking the second and fourth sets, 25-20 and 25-18, respectively. The Eagles closed out the fifth and final set, 15-8, earning a tough victory in the process.
Wake Forest seemed well in control of the match throughout the entirety of the first set. The Demon Deacons won the frame on the strength of a 5-0 run that put them up, 8-5, and a 5-1 stretch that included set point.
The game looked much different after the break. During the second set, the Eagles gained the lead early on, but Wake Forest clawed back and tied the game at 10 points apiece. But BC won seven of the next nine points to take a 17-12 lead, a stretch in which Jill Strockis tallied two straight kills to shut down the Demon Deacons. Throughout the rest of the set, the momentum continued to swing back and forth as both teams battled. The Eagles eventually came out on top, thanks to consecutive winners from Strockis again, tying the match at one set apiece.
Wake Forest led the third set early on, but the Eagles were quick to counter, as they tied up the set, 6-6. After BC added three straight points, Wake Forest regained composure and the lead at 17-11 before finally closing out the frame, 25-16.
BC was frantic to keep the match going into the fourth set. The Eagles nabbed an early 6-5 edge, before using an 8-2 run to extend that lead to 14-7. The Demon Deacons then responded with six consecutive points of their own to draw within one and force BC to take a timeout to regroup. It appeared to work. Fresh legs from the break gave BC the mental advantage it needed to put up nine of the next 11 points. Balido’s kill ended the set with the Eagles up, sending the game to a fifth set.
In a manner befitting the back-and-forth nature of the majority of the game, the fifth set looked evenly matched early on, as the teams split the first six points. Then, the Eagles were able to go on a five-point run that solidified their lead. Strawberry ensured victory for the Eagles when she capitalized on a Demon Deacon attack error with a kill to close out the set.
After a hard-fought victory on the road, head coach Jason Kennedy’s team looks to maintain its momentum going into the final three games of the regular season. Remarkably, BC has already secured the second-winningest season in program history, and is one game away from matching the program record of 20 wins with three matches to play. Perhaps most impressively, BC’s quest for its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid is far from over, and with three familiar opponents in Virginia, N.C. State, and Syracuse on the schedule, three more victories to end the season is certainly not out of the question.
Featured Image by Leo Wang / For The Heights