Volleyball blows two-set lead against Boston College
Hohenshelt looks to conduct self-evaluation of team
Everything looked set for the Virginia volleyball team to secure its sixth win of the season Sunday, but the wheels came off after a tough battle with Boston College. The Cavaliers (5-21, 2-12 ACC) went up two sets to none against the Eagles (8-16, 3-11 ACC) and looked to get out of the game in straight sets, but Boston College stormed back and took over the game starting in the third set.
“All they did was start serving the ball over the net,” coach Dennis Hohenshelt said. “We weren’t good passing all weekend, and if we’re not good passing, we have no chance. We out-hit them with 21 blocks, but we just couldn’t pass the ball.”
Freshman setter Jennifer Wineholt agreed with Hohenshelt that Boston College’s serving played a large role in the final few sets.
“They just always concentrated on the next ball and served some really tough balls at us,” Wineholt said.
With its back against the wall in the third set, Boston College went on a big rally to stay alive, winning the set without much sweat as the Cavaliers could not get their own rally going.
The Cavaliers found some momentum in the fourth set, getting on a few big rallies to separate themselves from their opponent. However, the Eagles matched each of these attacks and took Virginia to a tiebreak point. Boston College took the set, 28-26, and went into the tiebreaker set with the clear upper hand in momentum.
Before the final set, Hohenshelt had a long huddle with his team to get them back on track.
“We always just take each set as a new opportunity to get kills and score points, and that one was no different,” Wineholt said. “Dennis got us in a good mindset and we played hard, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Boston College completed the comeback, winning the last set 15-12. Freshman outside hitter Jill Strockis led the Eagles in their comeback bid with 18 kills.
Virginia’s senior hitter duo of Jasmine Burton and Haley Kole continued their strong tandem with 20 and 18 kills, respectively. Virginia had 21 blocks compared to Boston College’s five, but the team could not generate its own offense when it counted.
Despite the great shift in momentum in the middle of the game, the Cavaliers were resilient and stayed toe-to-toe with the Eagles until the final point. Hohenshelt expected a strong effort out of his team the whole time, even as things got bleak.
“I think it had a lot to do with the leadership on our team,” Wineholt said. “We have seniors and freshmen out there who trust each other, and you know that even when you make a mistake, you come to the center [of the court] with your sisters and move forward.”
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the mistakes were not few and far between on Sunday when it came time to close out the match. The game exemplified the way the team’s season has gone thus far — the Cavaliers get off to strong starts and build nice leads only to break down at the end of a set or match when they have the chance to clinch games.
Hohenshelt did not yet have a plan for moving forward from this match, but he knows that the week ahead will give him and his players a chance to conduct a self-evaluation of the team.
“We’ll figure out if the people we have on the floor are the people who deserve to be playing,” he said.”
Wineholt saw positives in the team’s performance on Sunday, but she knows what the team has to work on going forward into the last games of the season.
“We know that we’re very close, so we just have to go over those end-of-game situations in practice to make sure we’re prepared for that final push,” Wineholt said. “We need a little more pep in our step going forwards.”
The Cavaliers have a week of practice before heading to Kentucky to play Louisville (8-16, 3-11 ACC) Friday for the first time this season. Sunday, the team will travel to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame (19-7, 10-4 ACC), also for the first time in 2016.