Sports, Fall, Volleyball

Eagles Fall to Syracuse in Five Set Thriller

As the season comes to a close, Boston College volleyball looks to finish its incredible run on a strong note, ending the year with the program’s first winning record since 2004. Going into their penultimate matchup against Syracuse, the Eagles were only one win away from tying with that season’s win total of 20. As luck would have it, crucial errors and, at times, low morale prevented BC from coming out on top.

BC (19-11, 10-7 Atlantic Coast) struggled late in its previous matchup with Syracuse (11-13, 8-9), as it led the Orange 2-1 only to be edged out in the fourth and fifth sets. 

Similarly to their previous matchup, the Eagles quickly fell behind in the first set as the Orange took control of the first few points. But BC rallied early on and gained the lead. While Syracuse stayed on top for the majority of the set, it was largely back-and-forth play, with each side plagued by errors. BC struggled to cut down on its attacking errors, and the Orange lost multiple points on service ones.

BC tied the set at 9-9, but Syracuse quickly shut the Eagles’ offense down by taking a 4-0 run built largely on blocks. The teams continued their back-and-forth play before a 3-0 run put the Eagles atop Syracuse for their first lead of the match at 23-21. While the Orange collected two more points, a solo block from middle blocker Amaka Chukwujekwu won the first set for the Eagles.

BC may have taken the early lead with the first set, but the home team fought back, wanting to prevail once more over the Eagles. 

That fire spread throughout the entire team, and the Orange once more won the opening points of the set. This time, Syracuse kept that lead, forcing BC to make errors and not allowing a single lead change.

While Syracuse controlled the play throughout the second set, the home team still had difficulty cutting down on service errors, allowing the Eagles to briefly come back into contention. Even so, the Orange shut the door on that possibility, winning the second set 20-25.

The third set played out in a similar manner to the first, with the two teams going back and forth, each winning a couple of points before surrendering possession. The game looked evenly matched until a 9-0 run by BC midway through the set gave the Eagles the momentum that they hadn’t had before. Even though Syracuse had a couple of runs in the set to bring it close to BC, the Eagles kept their lead for the remainder of the set, winning 25-21.

Despite the Eagles’ lead over Syracuse heading into the fourth set, Polina Shermanova and the Orange controlled the play, giving no room for the visiting team to have a chance. Syracuse was quick to collect the first five points of the set, with repeated kills and meticulously placed balls that the Eagles had no shot of returning. 

An 8-0 run early in the set left the Eagles down by 10 points and already looking to the fifth set, seemingly giving up on their chances to close it out in four. BC head coach Jason Kennedy called a timeout after the Orange scored to make it 6-15, trying to halt the momentum and reignite energy within his own squad. 

The Orange sensed BC’s defeat and capitalized on it, exponentially increasing their kills and blocks, and Syracuse eventually captured the set 16-25, pushing the game to a fifth set.

Both sides fought hard in the final set, once again exchanging single points before Syracuse finally gained the lead at 6-7. Its run continued until Kennedy called another timeout, seeking to shift the momentum in the Eagles’ favor. But as it did in the fourth set, Syracuse had the win within its sight and would not back down. Rocket kills made by the Orange quickly shut down any hope of a rally by the Eagles. 

In addition to Syracuse’s increasing energy, BC began making more and more errors, essentially handing the win over to its opposition. And with a 9-15 win in the fifth set, Syracuse completed the series sweep of the Eagles.

While the Eagles led the Orange for a brief period, it was clear which team was dominating the entire match, and it certainly was not the visitors. Syracuse, while not known as a strong defensive squad, made 39 successful blocks against BC, a single-match record for the program. Strong performances by both Shermanova and freshman Abby Casiano were the final nails in the coffin for BC.

With one more match left in the season—a home match against N.C. State—the Eagles have one last chance to get to 20 wins. For this Senior Day matchup, BC has more to fight for than just an extra win on its record.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

November 24, 2019