Previewing 2018 Volleyball: Virginia

boston college volleyball

There’s plenty on the line for Boston College volleyball on Wednesday afternoon when it welcomes in conference foe Virginia (8-19 4-13 Atlantic Coast) in its penultimate game of the season. First, the Eagles (14-14, 4-12) are looking to string together consecutive wins for the first time since Sep. 23, having dropped 12 of their last 14 games. Second, they’re looking to win their fifth conference game for the first time since 2014—a potentially notable achievement for first-year head coach Jason Kennedy. Finally, BC is looking to add its 15th win of the season, a mark that would surpass 2007 for the most by the program since it arrived in the ACC in 2005.

Who is BC playing?
Virginia

When is BC playing?
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
Power Gym at Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to Watch:
The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra and available on WatchESPN.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) Friday night’s dramatic win over Virginia Tech went to five sets despite the Eagles taking the first two sets, and it featured a season high in kills (67) and the third-highest number of digs (72). BC was paced by McKenna Goss in her senior night as she piled up 19 kills.

2) The Eagles have largely struggled on the defensive side in conference play—they rank 13th in opposing hitting percentage (.246) and 14th in blocks per set (1.72).

3) BC does excel at keeping the ball alive with an average of 13.98 digs per set that’s good for fifth in the ACC. The high ranking is the result of several prolific players as Makenzie Morrison (3.61 per set) and Jill Strockis (3.51) both sit just outside of the top 10 in the conference.

UVA:

1) It hasn’t been smooth sailing as of late for the Cavaliers, who’ve lost four of their last five. The lone win was a similar five-set affair with VTech, where UVA trailed two sets to one but rattled off consecutive set victories to escape its home gym with just its fourth conference win.

2) UVA has several players who excel at certain things—Milla Ciprian ranks fifth in the ACC with 1.35 blocks per set, Sarah Billiard is eighth with 3.86 points per set, Kelsey Miller is fifth with 3.96 digs per set, and Jelena Novakovic is seventh in service aces with 30.

3) Errors have plagued the Cavaliers all season long—they have piled up 613 on the season, good for the second-most in the conference. The struggles on offense have been even more noticeable in ACC play, though, as UVA is hitting a .174 percentage that ranks 13th and 14 points shy of its overall season average.

Last Meeting:

A five-set match went the way of UVA back on Oct. 5 in Charlottesville, Va., with the two teams trading sets until the Cavaliers came out on top in the fifth, 16-14. The narrow setback for the Eagles was the product of being outblocked, 19-8, while additionally hitting at a .172 rate to UVA’s .272. The Cavaliers entered the match having lost five in a row, but won the first set and every other one after that en route to the win, paced by Ciprian’s 13 blocks. BC’s Clare Naughton recorded her first career double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs in the setback.

Outlook:

This a match that would mean so much for Kennedy and the program. The next opponent for the Eagles is Clemson, a team that they beat in straight sets earlier in the season, so the chance to end the year on a 3-0 run is definitely there. UVA narrowly beat BC earlier in the season, so you can expect a close match. Will the home advantage—the Eagles are 8-4 at Power Gym this year—be enough to overcome a defense that gave BC fits last time out? The Cavaliers’ .272 hitting percentage in the prior matchup was their fifth-highest mark on the year, so it’ll likely require a similar effort to beat the Eagles this time around. BC halted a recent skid on the strength of a .280 hitting percentage effort against the Hokies, and a similar mark would be more than enough to erase the narrow edge UVA had last time out. Regardless, this season can be quantified as a success for Kennedy—it’ll just be even more sweet if his team can manage to pull out a season above .500 and set conference records in the process.

Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff

Bradley Smart
About Bradley Smart 218 Articles
Bradley is the associate sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, March is the best month, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.