Move over, 2017. Step aside, 2016. There’s a new win total on the Heights, and for Boston College volleyball, that number is nine. After a three-game sweep at the Dartmouth Invitational, the Eagles (9-0) have surpassed last season’s seven victories, as well as the prior year’s eight, en route to a perfect start to the young season. First-year head coach Jason Kennedy has invigorated this Eagles side, successfully turning around a program that has not posted a winning season since 2004. BC has not scraped by to achieve this record either, as it has dropped just three sets through three weekend invitational tournaments.
In baseball, an immaculate inning occurs when a pitcher throws exactly nine strikes to strike out all three batters in an inning. Well by this logic, the Eagles had an immaculate Dartmouth Invitational. The Eagles struck to flawlessly win all nine sets over Lafayette (2-7), Siena (1-8), and Dartmouth (2-4).
BC thoroughly dominated this tournament in nearly every statistical category, and it logged at least a five-point margin of victory in every set. This Eagles team is drawing a lot of deserved attention with the revitalized energy that the players are bringing to every match.
On Saturday evening, BC concluded its sweep against host team Dartmouth. The Big Green won its first two matches of the tournament, so this contest would eventually crown the tournament’s champion. Dartmouth carried that momentum into this one, jumping out to a fast start by opening up a 5-2 first-set lead. BC answered with an 8-3 run to jump out to a lead of its own, in large part thanks to a pair of McKenna Goss kills. The teams traded points for a while, but BC came out on top of a hard-fought first frame, where two late kills from Claire Naughton carried the Eagles to a first-set victory.
Jill Strockis led the way for the Eagles in the second set, notching four kills in a frame—one that BC controlled, wire-to-wire. The junior was outstanding on both sides in this contest, tallying seven kills, as well as 18 digs. Dartmouth surged late in the set, but the Big Green came up short, and BC held on for a 25-20 victory.
Putaways were the story of the third set, as the Eagles produced an array of perfectly placed spikes, with 14 of their 25 points coming from kills. Goss led the team with nine putaways in the match, while setter Jane Dejerald notched 21 assists, her seventh match with 20-plus setups this season. Makenzie Morrison also paced the defense with 24 digs.
Earlier on Saturday, it took about half of the first set for BC to settle in against Siena. The Eagles fell behind the Saints, 12-9, before rattling off nine of the next 12 points, including five kills from Cat Balido. The sophomore posted a team-high 11 kills in the match. BC finished the first set strong, taking it 25-20. The first set would end up being the closest, as the Eagles hit their stride in the following two frames, closing out the match in dominant fashion. After taking early leads in the second and third sets, BC was able to subdue Siena runs and comebacks to cruise to victory.
The Eagles tied their season high with seven service aces, including three each from Morrison and Madison McKnight. Dejerald notched 22 assists, and the Saints only converted 26 of 92 kills, struggling to find the floor between the Eagles’ hands for much of the match.
BC opened the invitational on Friday evening against Lafayette, the only of the weekend’s opponents to enter the tournament with a victory on the season. What looked to be the closest matchup for the Eagles on paper quickly descended into an uncompetitive first set. BC used a pair of seven-to-one runs to mount a 25-12 first-set win. A few Leopards errors led to a quick 8-4 lead in the second frame, and the Eagles rolled to a 25-15 decision. Lafayette offered a little more of a fight in what turned out to be the final set, but the BC attack was just too forceful for a Lafayette squad that mustered a mere 23 kills on the day.
Ally Mullen led the spiking charge for the Eagles, converting 10 kills on 12 opportunities. BC was also strong on defense, digging 50 balls in the match, including 11 each for Balido and Morrison. Another seven service aces would help seal the deal for the Eagles.
Albeit against relatively weak opponents, BC has been dominant in the early going, and people are starting to take notice. The players are competing with a level of swagger and camaraderie that has not been seen in recent campaigns. The excitement surrounding this squad is rising with each victory, and a return to Power Gym next Friday against UMass Lowell awaits. The home game comes amid the three-game New England Classic, sandwiched between a pair of games at Harvard and Northeastern—the first two teams BC will face this season that are ranked inside the RPI Top 150.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor