Boston College volleyball’s three-game win streak came to an end on Sunday at the hands of divisional foe Pittsburgh.
The Eagles (17–11, 5–9 Atlantic Coast) started out slow in the first set against No. 7 Pitt (24–2, 14–0) and quickly fell in the second set but managed to pull off an upset win in the third set with a defensive push. BC took control with a combination of strong defense and several aces, but the Eagles fell in the fourth set for a 3–1 loss.
BC finished with set scores of 24–26, 11–25, 25-18, and 15–25.
BC faced a 9–2 deficit shortly into the match, but Jenna Pollock and libero Anna Murphy provided just the spark the Eagles needed with a trio of aces.
After some back-and-forth action, BC head coach Jason Kennedy made a successful challenge call, and the score was soon 24–23 in BC’s favor. A service error by Silvia Ianeselli followed by a receiving error, however, put Pitt up by one point.
On the final play of the set, Pitt’s Valeria Vazquez Gomez lightly floated a ball over BC’s defensive block attempt and claimed the set for Pitt.
“I think it’s good to see that there’s a little bit of a fight, you know?” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to have the maturity to close out that first set. I think you close out the first set, you’re looking at a whole different match, but obviously we have to put that serve in the court.”
Pitt followed its narrow win in set one with a dominant second set in which the Eagles struggled with errors, gifting the Panthers 10 points from errors alone. Serena Gray tallied three kills in a difficult defensive sequence for the Eagles.
BC turned things around in the third set thanks in large part to a strong two-way effort by Julia Haggerty. Haggerty led all BC players in blocks and hit percentage with nine blocks and a .571 hit percentage.
Toward the end of the third set, an ace by Pitt’s Courtney Buzzerio cut the score to 19–17 in BC’s favor. From there, the Eagles finished their effort with kills from Ianeselli and Katrina Jensen. Murphy grabbed the set for BC with a booming ace.
“I think the fact that we could keep fighting and find a way to win that third set shows a lot of grit out of our kids,” Kennedy said. “We got some different people involved, which I thought was great, and it was a great effort, I thought, all the way around.”
Pitt dominated in the fourth set with a well-rounded performance. Aces from Rachel Fairbanks and Gray helped Pitt take a commanding lead and overpower the Eagles’ defensive front.
“I think the offense can be a little bit crisper,” Kennedy said. “I think we can try to generate a few more kills. I felt like when we could run as fast as we want to we’re able to exploit some holes in the block, … but I think that when we tried to slow down and play high, you know, they are a real physical group, and we had a hard time scoring.”