The early season woes continued for the Binghamton University volleyball team over the weekend.
The Bearcats (1-9) fell in all three of their non-conference matches at the Zips Invitational this Friday and Saturday, extending their losing streak to six. Following back-to-back five-set losses on Friday to Youngstown State University and host University of Akron, Binghamton was swept in three straight sets by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) on Saturday.
“It was definitely a disappointment not being able to win any matches there,” head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “We fought hard. We took a couple of matches to five games, and it’s always tough to lose those close ones right at the end there. It was tough on the team, but they’re still fighting pretty hard out there.”
Kiriyama noted junior middle hitter Grace Vickers as a bright spot in an otherwise dismal weekend for the Bearcats. Vickers totaled 32 kills for the weekend and is en route to being named to the All-Tournament team for her performance. She led Binghamton in its tournament opener against Youngstown State (8-3), tallying a team-high 16 kills and a stellar .762 hitting percentage.
“She had a really tremendous [first] match with the high hitting percentage that she had … and I think she was just very consistent throughout the tournament,” Kiriyama said. “Of anyone, she shows the most improvement … She’s one of those that really [work] hard throughout practice, throughout the offseason — you can see the difference.”
But despite Vickers’ effort, the Bearcats were edged out by Youngstown State, 3-2 (25-27, 25-21, 25-20, 18-25, 13-15). After bouncing back from a 27-25 loss in the first set to take the next two, Binghamton needed just one more win to take the match. The Penguins pushed passed BU in the fourth set, however, and jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the fifth. Binghamton battled back to tie the set at 11 and knot it again at 13, but two mishandled balls permanently turned the match in Youngstown’s favor, 15-13.
Senior outside hitter Iva Partaleva, sophomore outside hitter Kristin Hovie and senior middle blocker Alex Roland joined Vickers with 10 or more kills apiece. Sophomore setter Amanda Dettmann recorded a season-high 49 assists.
Binghamton suffered its second five-set loss of the day (25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 13-25, 14-16) hours later at the hands of the Akron Zips (5-4). After capturing the first two sets, BU dropped the next three straight to surrender the match. The Bearcats led 11-6 in the finale before the Zips battled back, riding a 6-1 run to tie the set at 12 and eventually take the game 16-14.
Partaleva led the Bearcats with a match-high 21 kills, while Hovie added 12.
With the loss, BU is now 0-4 in five-set matches.
“It can be difficult at times,” Kiriyama said of attempting to rebound from close five-set losses. “To lose the tight ones is more disappointing than to lose soundly, and to have two of those in one day was tough on them, and it was a little bit tough for them to bounce back the next day [against SIUE]. I think playing that many games in a day really took its toll on them a little bit.”
The Bearcats went down quickly on Saturday against SIUE (4-5), falling in three straight sets (23-25, 18-25, 17-25) for the fifth time this season.
Binghamton was held to just 27 kills and a .048 hitting percentage in the match and was led by Hovie’s eight kills on the day. Vickers contributed with seven kills and two aces.
The Bearcats are set to take on Siena College for the second time this season on Wednesday. The Saints knocked off Binghamton in five sets when the teams met at the Boston College Invitational back on Aug. 25.
“We need to be very motivated going in there,” Kiriyama said of Wednesday’s match. “It’s a team we lost to in a very close match early in the year, so [the team knows] that we can compete with them and that we have [the] ability to beat them, so I’m hoping they come in very motivated and just ready mentally.”
The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. at the Alumni Recreation Center’s UHY Court in Loudonville, N.Y.