In five years at the helm of Boston College volleyball, Jason Kennedy has transformed BC’s program. In his first four years on the Heights, Kennedy became the fastest coach in program history to earn 50 wins and on Nov. 21, he established himself as BC’s all-time leader in ACC wins.
Kennedy led BC to its first-ever postseason victory in 2021, and after a 20–13 regular season in 2022, the Eagles qualified for the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) for its third postseason appearance in four years.
On Friday, a packed student section filled BC’s news home court as BC (20–13, 7–11 Atlantic Coast) took on Buffalo in the first round of the NIVC. The Eagles swept the Bulls (19–14, 10–8 Mid-American) in three sets by scores of 25–18, 25–17, and 27–25 to advance to the tournament’s second round.
In the first set, the game’s momentum shifted back and forth until the Eagles took a 15–14 lead and Kennedy called a timeout. From there, the Eagles pulled away. Buffalo made two consecutive serving errors, and a Jenna Pollock ace set the Eagles up for a scoring run that led them to victory.
“I think anytime you start kind of the second season, if you will, everybody’s a little uncomfortable,” Kennedy said after the first set. “It’s gonna take a little bit of adjusting. There’s a lot of pressure in these games. Now you win or you go home so I think we just had to get over the initial jitters.”
The Eagles’ offensive power, led by kills from Katrina Jensen and Silvia Ianeselli fueled the Eagles’ hot streak. Buffalo found a chance to slow the Eagles’ long rally after it made a crucial dig to keep the ball in play, but BC’s Kate Brennan ended Buffalo’s chances with a spike, causing the packed student fan section to erupt in cheers. The Eagles capitalized on a Pollock kill to win the set 25–18.
BC built off of its momentum from the first set and stayed in control in the second. After Pollock killed a Buffalo serve to put the Eagles up 2–1, BC didn’t relinquish its lead for the rest of the set.
Buffalo came within a few points of the Eagles several times in the set, but BC responded at every important juncture. After Buffalo blocked an Abby Leigh kill to make it 13–12, Jensen’s two key kills and Pollock’s ace put the Eagles on a 4–1 run.
After going up 21–16, the Bulls took a timeout, but their reset did nothing to slow down BC as it finished the set on a 4–1 run to take the set, 25–17.
Buffalo took control of the third set early on and wouldn’t relinquish its lead until Alayna Crabtree made two consecutive aces to give the Eagles an 18–17 lead.
The game’s intensity did not die out, as the final stages of the game were packed with action. Kennedy called a timeout as the Bulls led 22–20, looking to prevent BC from having to play a fourth set.
Buffalo took BC to the brink of losing the set twice, but the Eagles responded both times with clutch kills from Julia Haggerty. After two back-to-back kills, Jensen finished the job with a kill of her own, taking the set 27–25 and completing BC’s sweep of Buffalo.
“We have to win this in three because there’s no guarantee that you’re gonna win, and if you don’t, I think it gets dicey or in dicier,” Kennedy said. “The longer you go where, you know, you get into four sets, then you’re one set away from going five and you really don’t want to be in that situation.”