The first three sets of Boston College volleyball’s match against New Hampshire could have gone either team’s way. BC and the Wildcats exchanged constant back and forths and experienced close point totals throughout the game as neither team was able to run away with a lead from the get-go of each set.
The fourth and final set was no different.
Leading the Wildcats 24–23 and trailing two sets to one with the game on the line, BC had put itself in a position to force a fifth set. But two consecutive attack errors put New Hampshire back in the driver’s seat. And while BC’s Halle Schroder tied the set at 25, two serves and two New Hampshire kills later, BC and the Wildcats found themselves giving each other high fives in the handshake line.
“I just don’t think we executed very well late in sets,” BC head coach Jason Kennedy said. “You know, I thought we had a few really good opportunities to turn some transition balls into points and we didn’t, we didn’t make great decisions with those balls.”
The Eagles (2–1) entered the contest against New Hampshire (3–1) having won their last seven contests, including the final five matches of last season which ended with a NIVC title, and two wins to start the 2023 season. That streak ended on Wednesday night in Durham, N.H., as BC earned its first loss of the season, falling to the Wildcats in four sets.
The set scores were 20–25, 25–18, 22–25, and 27–25.
“I think that, you know, we have to learn how to manage those situations a little bit better,” Kennedy said. “But I don’t think it’s anything that we have to reteach or reinvent the wheel. I think we just have to be able to execute when things get a little bit tight down the stretch a little bit better.”
The first set remained tight until New Hampshire’s Meredith Hohnbaum sent a screaming spike over the net and through BC’s defenders to make it a 17–13 differential in the Wildcats’ favor.
The subsequent two points also went the Wildcats’ way. But back-to-back kills from Alayna Crabtree gave BC five of the next seven points to make it a 21–18 game.
But that was the closest that BC would cut the first-set deficit to, as the Wildcats held on for the win.
After another back-and-forth start to the second set, BC pulled away with six straight points, including two kills from Schroder, a freshman outside hitter, for a 14–7 lead. The Eagles maintained this lead throughout the set, and a block from Crabtree and Julia Haggerty gave BC the second set in comfortable fashion.
“Second set that we came out, you know, we only made three hitting errors,” Kennedy said. “We had a .522 in that set and I think that was just, you know, that’s got to be more our style. We need to be a low error team, in the other sets we had eight or nine hitting errors in each set, and we’re not going to win a lot of sets doing that.”
In the third set, BC and the Wildcats battled to a 19-point tie. Jenna Pollock recorded four kills up until that point, but attack errors plagued the Eagles and they quickly fell behind the Wildcats.
Schroder, who recorded five kills in the set, tried to revive the Eagles, but it wasn’t enough as BC fell behind 2–1.
“She’s just consistent,” Kennedy said of Schroder. “You know, I think she’s in that role because she’s steady and we know we’re gonna get out of that spot with her in there.”
For the fourth consecutive set, the Eagles and New Hampshire found themselves in a near stalemate, this time tied at 20. Despite multiple kills in the set from Schroder, Pollock, Crabtree, and Katrina Jensen, and a timeout from BC, the Wildcats bore down in crunch time. Back-to-back Hohnbaum kills sealed the set 27–25 and also sealed the match.
“So I took the timeout at 21 all just to give us a chance to sit down, catch our breath a little bit and then go out there and try to execute what we could, as best as we could,” Kennedy said. “I think we came out, we earned one right away, we just weren’t able to hold on and finish.”