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Bearcats top ‘Cuse in five sets

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Wins have not come frequently for the Binghamton University volleyball team in 2012. But after dropping the first two sets against Syracuse University on Wednesday, the Bearcats stormed back for a 3-2 victory, toppling the Orange for the first time in the program’s Division I history. The win, coupled with a defeat of Siena College on Sept. 12, sandwiched a three-game sweep at the Kathy Trosclair Memorial Tournament last weekend.

On Wednesday, Binghamton (3-12) led the opening set against Syracuse (7-7) 24-18 before an 8-0 run by the Orange gave Syracuse a 26-24 opening win. Despite opportunities to take the second set, the Bearcats dropped another close one, 28-26, and fell into a quick 2-0 hole.

Then Binghamton built another early lead in the third set. Though Syracuse threatened to come back again, the Bearcats quelled the effort this time, capturing the set, 25-22. The fourth set wasn’t nearly as close, as the Bearcats cruised to a 25-14 victory to force a deciding fifth set.

Five-set losses have plagued the Bearcats this season, who have fallen six times in such matches. This time, however, against a Big East opponent, Binghamton prevailed with a 15-13 fifth-set win to take the match.

“I thought the team played well, they were in every game in that five-set match,” BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “They got it together in the third game and really played solid.”

The team was not as fortunate at Tulane University’s Kathy Trosclair Memorial Tournament, falling in five sets to Baylor University and Tulane (3-9) before falling in straight sets to The University of Texas at El Paso.

The Bearcats had nearly identical outcomes against the Bears (13-2) and the Green Wave. In both matches, Binghamton won every other set before dropping the fifth 13-15. And though each set against UTEP (5-7) was close, the Bearcats couldn’t secure a single victory.

But the team drew positives from the tournament. For one, losing to a solid Baylor team in five sets bodes well for conference play, which is set to begin on Friday night.

“We are playing tough teams where we are learning our weaknesses, and playing at a higher caliber,” senior middle hitter Grace Vickers said. “I personally feel that our record … does not reflect our skill level nor amount of hard work. It’s a bunch of little things that need to be fixed, but once they all come together, I feel we will be unbeatable.”

Closing out matches will be key for the Bearcats going forward. It’s something Kiriyama said the team needs to continue to work on if they are to be successful against conference opponents.

“The team continues to work hard in practice,” he said. “They are making progress with all aspects, not only the physical game, but the mental as well.”

The Bearcats’ win against Siena (7-7) on Sept. 12 will be another match Binghamton reflects back upon as conference play approaches. The Bearcats avoided a fifth set as they were able to finish off the Saints in four.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is set to visit Binghamton tonight to kick off conference play. Though the Retrievers are just 7-10, they are riding a hot streak, having won four of their last five games and putting a 3-9 start in the rearview mirror.

The first set is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the West Gym.