Until Saturday, Boston College volleyball had never recorded a 21-win season. But in their matchup against St. John’s in the second round of the 2022 National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC), the Eagles prevented history from repeating itself.
BC (21–13, 7–11 Atlantic Coast) swept St. John’s (20–14, 10–8 Big East) by scores of 25–18, 25–22, and 25–20 to advance to the tournament’s third round.
“Since I got here as a freshman, chasing 21 has been a goal consistently every single season,” BC libero Anna Murphy said. “So, to actually achieve it this year is special, and then to achieve it with this group of girls is even more special.”
Earlier this season, the Eagles fell to St. John’s in five sets during the Red Storm Invitational. Things couldn’t have gone more differently on Saturday, as BC coasted to victory in three sets.
“Actually, we’ve lost to St. John’s 15–13 in the fifth two years in a row, so having this chance, every single person on our team was like, ‘We are not losing this game,’” Murphy said.
Silvia Ianeselli and Izzy Clavenna each tallied nine kills in the sweep.
“I think it’s been a lot of fun,” BC head coach Jason Kennedy said. “We took a very specific path in building this and really trying to develop our roster to get them to be consistently improving.”
Just 24 hours after sweeping Buffalo in the first round of the NIVC, BC continued its momentum into the tournament’s second round.
“We’re feeling great,” Clavenna said. “I feel like it’s really nice to have these sweeps under our belts so we know how to play in this tournament, you know. We’re comfortable, especially being at home.”
Neither team took a commanding lead throughout the entirety of the first half. A kill from BC’s Katrina Jensen tied the set at 14, and a St. John’s service error gave the Eagles a one-point lead.
That was the spark that the Eagles needed as they quickly took a 20–16 lead, forcing St. John’s to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Eagles maintained their momentum to earn the first-set win.
The Red Storm looked like a different team to start the second set, though, and took an early 10–3 lead, forcing a BC timeout.
But BC followed up with an 11–4 run to come all the way back and tie the set at 14 apiece. A St. John’s attack error gave the Eagles an advantage.
“Even when we were down 10–3, I had full confidence that we were gonna win that set and that game,” Murphy said.
Another St. John’s attack error clinched the second set for the Eagles.
“Well, we knew they started playing a different lineup in that second set,” Kennedy said. “So we weren’t really sure what it was going to look like as the set evolved and we figured there were going to be some weak points and opportunities to exploit some runs of our own, so we just had to stay in it.”
St. John’s recorded 15 attack errors throughout the first two sets while the Eagles tallied seven.
The third set followed a similar pattern to the first set, with neither team taking a commanding lead early on.
BC eventually pulled away, and a powerful kill from Ianeselli—her seventh of the game—gave the Eagles a 10–8 lead. BC capitalized on its momentum and extended its lead to 14–9 before the Red Storm called a timeout. A Julia Haggerty kill secured BC’s sweep.
“To see our growth and that maturity come to life this late into the year, into December, I think it’s a huge testament to the team’s ability to train, our coaches, our staff, and quite honestly, just how hard this group of athletes has worked to get here,” Kennedy said.