Boston College volleyball is full of new faces. With 10 freshmen on the team, the Eagles are playing a shortened season against some of the best teams in the NCAA, and they haven’t had time to acclimate to conference play. As a result, Louisville swept the Eagles in three sets on Friday night to open BC’s season.
Louisville’s (1-1) season began earlier than BC’s (0-1), as Notre Dame swept the Cardinals last Friday. The return of nearly all of Louisville’s key players combined with an early start gave the Cardinals the leg up on BC coming into Chestnut Hill, and they capitalized.
BC started the first set of its season on a kill by Clare Naughton. The Eagles remained competitive through the beginning of the set, trading a one-point lead with Louisville for the majority of the first frame.
As the set wore on, BC began to fall out of rhythm with the Cards. A 14-13 Louisville lead became 17-13, and the Cardinals’ momentum did not falter for the rest of the set. Louisville scored point after point, and BC had no answer, dropping the first set 25-19.
“We came out good,” BC head coach Jason Kennedy said about the first set. “There wasn’t enough stamina.”
The second set started similarly to how the first ended–with a 2-0 Louisville run. The Cardinals carried this momentum to a 10-6 early lead, until a Louisville service error turned the momentum to BC.
The Eagles fought back into contention, narrowing the Louisville lead to 17-15. That momentum did not last long, however, as Louisville responded with seven unanswered points to take the second set by a score of 25-16.
Despite losing the first two sets of the match, the Eagles had held their own. Their offense was clean, with few ball-handling errors. BC was the clear underdog, and it managed to somewhat keep up with a top competitor playing near-perfect volleyball.
The match’s third and final set did not go well for the Eagles.
Louisville scored six unanswered points and did not slow down from there. The Cardinals had put up 12 points by the time BC scored five, and the Eagles only scored four more after that. Louisville dominated the third and final set of the night 25-9.
“We fell apart halfway,” coach Kennedy said. “We need the ability to adapt.”
BC’s defense will be a major factor in their ability to adapt going forward. Louisville played exceptional offense with an impressive .474 hit percentage, and BC could not keep up.
“We need to slow down their two left sides,” Kennedy said. “We just didn’t have an answer for number nine and number 14.”
Louisville numbers nine and 14–Claire Chaussee and Anna Debeer–led the Cardinals’ offense, combining for 19 total kills. Containing them will be a key to success in Saturday’s rematch game.
Grace Penn performed well as a setter in her first game at the college level for BC, as did Sophia Lambros, who took a surprising number of outside hits despite her status as a setter.
In her time on the floor, BC stalwart Amaka Chukwujekwu made a substantial difference for the Eagles. Naughton and Chukwujekwu led BC in kills, with seven and six respectively.
While disappointing, BC’s difficult adjustment was not a complete surprise. The Eagles came into the 2020 season with a mindset of growth and adjustment, and Friday’s game was just one of many bumps on the road to success.
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics