Sports, Fall, Volleyball

BC Outlasts Hokies with Dominant Blocking in Shutout Home Victory

After a defeating, four-set loss against Wake Forest on Friday, in which the Demon Deacons snapped Boston College volleyball’s undefeated home-game win streak, the Eagles bounced back on Sunday with a dominant victory over Virginia Tech. 

The win gave BC just its second conference win of the season on Mental Health Awareness Day.  The Eagles won the first two sets by a score of 25–19, and the last set by a score of 25–17. Freshman Halle Schroder led the Eagles with 12 kills, and Alayna Crabtree was not far behind with 10. Cornelia Roach led BC in blocks with six, Sophia Lambros led the team in assists with 19, and Anna Murphy led the team in digs with 12. Overall, the Eagles (13–7, 2–4 Atlantic Coast) out blocked the Hokies (11–6, 1–5) 12–6, a major factor in the 3–0 win. 

The win marked an important one for conference implications, especially because of how close Virginia Tech and BC are in the ACC standings. The Eagles came into the affair tied with the Hokies at 1–4 in conference play. With the extra point, the Eagles jumped the Hokies in the conference standings and increased their chances to play in the NCAA tournament. BC head coach Jason Kennedy emphasized the importance of getting a win against any ACC opponent after the game. 

“I think anytime you can beat a team in the ACC, it is a big deal,” Kennedy said. “I think this is one of the tougher conferences in the country right now and Virginia Tech has been playing well. But for us to be able to get into rhythm and be able to play pretty clean was a good deal for us to get back on track. I was relieved to get out of there in three sets and focus our attention on next week.” 

The first set went very back and forth, with BC and Virginia Tech exchanging kills and each team struggling to gain momentum. The score margin stayed within three until the Eagles went on a 3–0 run to stretch their lead out to five after a kill from Schroder. The Hokies answered with three straight points of their own to make the score 15–13, but BC was able to pull away and get the first set win at 25–19. 

A common theme for the match was whenever Virginia Tech started to get momentum, the Eagles would quickly dig back and scratch away at their opponents’ moves. Kennedy spoke to this point, stressing how important it is to handle adversity and control the flow of the game while retaining the lead. 

“We talked about getting a restart before the match,” Kennedy said. “We know we’re not going to play perfectly. We just can’t give up too many streaks and too many runs. I think we did a really good job of not letting that carry into the next play and have a short-term memory and move on.”

The Eagles took charge of the beginning of the second set. BC had point streaks of three straight and five straight to make the score 9–2. After alternating points for a few minutes, the Eagles stretched their lead out to nine following an ace from Schroder and an attack error by the Hokies. Virginia Tech, however, would not go out quietly. The Hokies fought back and cut the lead down to five toward the end of the set. The Eagles finally ended the Hokies’ comeback as Schroder ended the set with a kill, giving BC a 2–0 set lead. The score was once again 25–19.

Throughout the first two sets, the Eagles were able to limit the chances of the visiting team, especially the top three offensive threats for Virginia Tech—Cara Lewis, Hanna Borer, and Iliana Rodriguez.

“I think our blocking was really good,” Kennedy said. “I think right now, we’re one of the top blocking teams in the conference. I think Cornelia Roach has come into the middle role and has done a phenomenal job stepping into that role. She’s really dynamic, she closes the block well, and I think we had a pretty good scouting report for these guys as far as what we wanted to limit and take away.”

In the third set, BC picked up just where it left off. The Eagles jumped out to a 4–1 lead following an ace from Crabtree. The two sides would go back and forth until the Hokies mounted a three-point streak to tie the set at six apiece. The Eagles once again squashed any Hokie momentum as they answered with a 3–0 streak of their own to increase their lead to 9–6. 

A kill from Katrina Jensen capped off another 3–0 BC rally to increase the lead to four. Virginia Tech would eventually cut the lead to two late in the third set to make the score 18–16 in favor of BC, but for the third straight set, the Eagles closed out the game in emphatic fashion. BC capped off the contest with a 7–1 run that featured five Hokie attack errors and a Crabtree kill that sealed the shutout victory. 

“I think it was a good bounce back win,” Kennedy said. “I thought we were a little shaky in that first set until we could get the offense going in the second and third. That’s kind of my expectation and I was a little disappointed with our performance versus Wake Forest. Right now, I’m happy we’re back on track and we’ve got Duke as the next one up. I think it’s another opportunity for us to get an ACC win at home.”

October 9, 2023