Volleyball, Fall, Sports

BC Pulls Away Late in the Fifth to Take Down Duke at Home

Boston College volleyball’s ACC opener against Syracuse on Wednesday came down to the wire. BC opened the game with a win in set one, a loss in sets two and three, and then saved itself from defeat with a clutch win in set four. The Eagles and Syracuse went back and forth in set five, but BC came up short.

The first four sets of BC’s Sunday matchup against Duke were a mirror image of Wednesday’s contest. The Eagles split the first four sets with Duke 2–2 and battled the Blue Devils through the fifth. 

But on Sunday, the Eagles flipped a switch and remained composed in the game’s final moments—exactly what they failed to do on Wednesday. BC (12–3, 1–1 Atlantic Coast) edged out the Blue Devils 15–12 in the fifth set, earning its first win on its new home court in the Margot Connell Recreation Center. BC won with set scores of 22–25, 25–12, 25–19, 21–25, and 15–12. 

“We just took a tough loss in the fifth set against Syracuse, and this game was the number one priority for the week,” BC outside hitter Katrina Jensen said. “We wanted to show that we can pull out of an ACC match as winners and prove to ourselves that we can still hang in this conference and prove to people that we’re a force to be reckoned with.” 

The Eagles played hesitantly to start the game, and the Blue Devils (9–4, 0–2) raced out to a 13–9 lead. BC clawed back, though, tying things up at 13–13 and then 22–22 before the Blue Devils closed the game out 25–22. Outside hitter Alayna Crabtree recorded three straight kills to help BC tie things up at 13. 

Duke started the second set the way it ended the first, dominating play and getting out to an early lead. But the Eagles, motivated by their home crowd, took a 6–4 lead and never looked back. 

Sunday marked the first time that BC played in its new home court in the Margot Connell Recreation Center. The Eagles previously played home games in Power Gym. The location change is a result of construction for the new Hoag Basketball Pavilion, which will connect to Conte Forum where Power Gym was previously located. 

“We started to understand and get comfortable in our own building and be able to play the style that we wanted to play,” BC head coach Jason Kennedy said.

The Eagles won the third set 25–19 to enter the fourth just one set away from victory. 

But Duke, which also entered the game coming off a loss to Syracuse, came to fight in the fourth set, sending BC to five sets for its second consecutive game.

The loss in the fourth set didn’t seem to affect the Eagles’ confidence, though, and a home crowd of 539 people rallied behind BC. 

The Eagles kept their cool through a positive attitude after losing the fourth set, Jensen said.

“If we had not reacted the way we had during the game, we would not have won the match,” Jensen said.

Duke racked up an 8–7 lead, but BC tied things back up at nine apiece. From there, the Eagles ran away with the win. 

“It’s a short game,” Kennedy said. “We knew that we lined up our best attackers in the front row so we could get them through the rotation twice, and I think that was the difference. They lined up their best server, and we had to manage that rotation.”

Jensen and Crabtree were crucial in helping BC earn the win, tying for a team-high 15 kills. Jensen registered two straight kills to score BC’s final two points in the fifth set. Setters Grace Penn and Sophia Lambros were also vital for the Eagles, recording 31 and 23 assists respectively. 

BC’s crowd and the Eagles’ bench were loud and energetic throughout the game, creating an exciting atmosphere for the Eagles’ second game of conference play. 

“If we had to sell tickets to this thing, this thing would have had a sell-out,” Kennedy said. “I think it was an unbelievable atmosphere. I hope we can get people back in this building—this is a fun team to follow. We’ll be fun to have around this building.”

September 25, 2022