Senior night often creates a little bit of magic in the air. It’s something intangible that can aid an underdog in defeating a much more powerful foe. Unfortunately for Boston College volleyball, that magic was working against the Eagles on Friday night.
Virginia limped into their senior night with a 3-13 conference record. On paper, it seemed like they were not a match for an up-and-coming BC squad. But despite their status as a woeful underdog, UVA swept the Eagles in a swift and devastating fashion: 25-16, 25-19, 25-22.
The Cavaliers (11-18, 4-13 Atlantic Coast) started the game hot and never looked back. Starting all four of their seniors, Virginia jumped out to an early 5-0 lead with two kills coming from middle blocker Chino Anukwuem.
BC (19-10, 10-6) struggled mightily to keep up but simply couldn’t hang on. The wave of blue and orange was overwhelming as Virginia stretched the early lead to 9.
Head coach Jason Kennedy called his second timeout with the Eagles down 15-6, but his message during the break didn’t seem to translate to success on the court.
Claire Naughton was sharp in the latter stages of the first set, but Jewel Strawberry and Amaka Chukwujekwu were uncharacteristically quiet.
When the Cavaliers sensed the Eagles’ morale was fading, the first set was all but finished. BC could barely get the ball over the net, with UVA registering 6 blocks in the first period. Jelena Novakovic buried the set, tallying two consecutive kills to close out the frame at 25-16.
The second set didn’t start out well for the Eagles either. After the break offered a chance for BC to catch its breath and regroup, the Eagles went right back to uncharacteristically sloppy play. Madison McKnight served the opening ball squarely into the center of the net to start the set down 0-1.
From there, the teams looked more evenly matched. UVA lost some of its momentum as the two squads traded a few rallies, bringing the score to 11-11 at the next break.
Out of the timeout, the Cavs jumped on the Eagles again, just as they did at the start of the game. Milla Ciprian and Novakovic rattled off four consecutive points, three of them blocks, to eventually put the Cavaliers up 19-13. BC never truly caught up and fell in the second set, 25-19.
After the 15-minute break between the second and third sets, BC roared to life with some unexpected urgency. The Eagles matched the effort and enthusiasm of their opponents, which was something they had been lacking early on. The two squads traded points until a Virginia block that was overturned by Kennedy’s challenge broke up the Cavaliers’ rhythm.
The Eagles held a two-point cushion well into the third set, mostly thanks to Jewel Strawberry. Strawberry came to life and revived the Eagles’ offense to the tune of three kills in the final period.
UVA wouldn’t go away quietly though. The Cavs clawed back and tied the set at 20-20 before eventually winning the game on a BC spike that flew well over the end line.
BC was on the wrong end of a great upset on Friday night. Virginia came to life on senior night to steal a victory from a historically tougher and much more talented opponent. With the last two games of the season and their own senior night on the horizon, BC and Kennedy have to regroup and refocus before their trip to Syracuse.
Featured Image by Aman Sinha / For The Heights