After suffering four straight losses, Boston College volleyball traveled to upstate New York to face off against No. 14 Syracuse, hoping to prove that it was better than its 0-4 record. Consisting of a young team, including 10 freshmen, the Eagles knew it would be an uphill battle against the much older and more experienced Orange (3-4). Despite battling through three hard-fought sets, the Eagles (0-5) met a similar fate as their previous games, falling 0-3 in the match..
Although Syracuse started off with momentum in the first set, the Eagles were able to hold their ground through the work of senior Amaka Chukwujekwu and sophomore Izzy Clavenna, who scored two early kills. The advantage didn’t last long, however, as Syracuse gained control of the set thanks to the work of Abby Casiano, who contributed five blocks and two kills. As BC started to fall behind, head coach Jason Kennedy called a timeout to halt the growing lead of the Orange, and his efforts were successful.
BC senior Clare Naughton went on a kill streak, scoring three points for her team and bringing the Eagles within four points of Syracuse to fight off a set point. And yet, Naughton’s efforts were not enough to stop the growing Orange force. Sophomore Marina Markova went in for the kill to send the Eagles down to 0-1 in the match.
While they had six fewer attack attempts than BC in the first set, the Orange capitalized greatly on their defense, outnumbering the Eagles 8-3 in blocks to shut down any BC attempts to take the lead.
Brushing off their first set loss, the Eagles’ offense entered the second set stronger than ever. With impressive kills by sophomore Gabby McCaa and Naughton, the Eagles went on a 5-1 run. Anna Murphy went on a scoring binge, causing the Syracuse defense to make regretful errors. As the Orange began to shorten the Eagles’ lead, a sequence of four kills and an ace coming from Clavenna and veteran Naughton gave BC more breathing room.
The ranked Syracuse team fought back, however, including a monstrous kill by Ella Saada and two impressive back-to-back aces by Markova. Suddenly, the Orange were back on top with a one-point lead at 15-14. But when things felt as if they were going downhill for the Eagles, freshman Grace Penn came to the rescue, scoring four consecutive points, with three kills and an ace.
Just as BC started to expand its lead, Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin called a timeout in a desperate attempt to stop the Eagles’ streak. Off the break, Yelin’s team answered, and Syracuse’s offense went on an 8-2 run with back to back direct kills from Saada. With the help of freshman Lauren Hogan, the Orange’s freshmen won the set, outscoring the Eagles 25-22.
Similar to the opening pair, the third set was a battle of back-and-forth points and hot streaks. With many substitutions and an ever-changing offense, the Eagles started out with a 4-2 lead over the Orange.
But as was becoming routine for the Eagles, the Syracuse offense overcame the early BC lead, scoring four consecutive points and bringing the Orange to a 12-11 lead over the Eagles. Markova was once again the catalyst for Syracuse with her 12th kill of the match, assuming Orange control at 15-12.
Naughton was up for the task, matching Markova with 14 kills of her own. But once again Naughton’s efforts were not enough to help the rest of the Eagles, who struggled to rally their offense. In the final 10 points of the set, Syracuse escaped the grasp of the Eagles, going on an 8-2 run. The nationally ranked Orange eventually pulled away from the scrappy Eagle squad, prevailing in the final set, 25-18.
As a relatively young team, the Eagles did not expect this season to go as smoothly as the last. But with a record of 0-5 and a shortened schedule, BC will need to make some changes in order to be considered a real threat.
Featured Image Courtesy of Syracuse Athletics