At first, it appeared as if Boston College volleyball’s matchup against Delaware was going to be yet another in a long stream of disappointments this season. Right from the get-go, BC trailed the Blue Hens. But as soon as the Eagles dropped the first set, they switched into another gear. Thanks to Cat Balido, BC rallied to win three-straight sets and its first road match of 2017.
Delaware (0-7) took an early 7-1 lead over the Eagles (3-5) on Saturday and showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. But a timeout provided BC with a chance to regroup and halt the onslaught. After the break in play, the Eagles recovered some momentum, and the game continued with neither team maintaining possession for more than three points at a time. This stretch of play was defined by mistakes. In fact, seven of the teams’ first 15 points resulted from some kind of error.
Despite pulling within four on multiple occasions, BC still found itself down by seven late in the game. Balido led a 9-3 scoring run, but it was too little, too late, as the Blue Hens ended up taking the first set, 25-20.
Building off its scoring spree toward the tail end of the first set, BC looked sharper in take two. But after two back-to-back kills from Balido and Amaka Chukwujekwu, Delaware went on a 5-point run to make the score 5-2. Delaware upped its lead to six in the following minutes. Yet, unlike the first set, the Eagles didn’t let this one get away from them.
BC responded with an eight-point run of its own, reclaiming the lead. But the Blue Hens were not going to go down without a fight either. Liz Tobey recorded two kills, putting Delaware right back into the driver’s seat. As the set neared conclusion, the game remained tight.
With the score tied at 24, the tension was palpable. But this time it was the Eagles who took control of the situation. Balido came up with two blocks to give BC the second set.
High on confidence, BC jumped out to an early lead in the third set. Balido, Lynn Braakhuis, and Clare Naughton all logged kills, propelling the Eagles to a 4-0 advantage. Time and time again, the Blue Hens shot themselves in the foot, committing a handful of unforced errors. Delaware never really found its footing, and BC went on to steal the set, 25-9.
Like the previous set, BC stormed out to an early lead in the fourth set. Led by Braakhuis, the Eagles quickly established an 11-4 advantage. But this time, Delaware broke double digits. Still, strong play from Balido—who recorded four of BC’s final nine points—ensured the victory for the Eagles.
One day earlier, BC lost a match to Temple that, according to all of the statistics, the Eagles should have won. At that point in the season, the prerogative for BC seemed to be that it would play well until it mattered, at which point the team would fall apart.
The Eagles were able to find and maintain a lead in the first set, until it really mattered. Only four points away from taking a one-set lead, BC choked. Temple strung together a run, and proceeded to capture the set, 25-22. The next two sets followed a similar pattern.
Each time, the Eagles built up an early advantage, only to stutter in the latter portion of play. The inability to finish cost BC the match, as Temple went on to win the final two sets, 25-20 and 25-23.
Despite the disappointing finish, Balido impressed with her game-leading 13 kills. Braakhuis also made her presence known with three aces—half of BC’s total of six—and nine digs.
The Temple matchup was full of lost chances and leads, but the Eagles’ win against Delaware keeps head coach Chris Campbell’s team in the mix. Only time will tell if the victory will be a turning point for BC, or merely just a blip on the radar.
Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff