For the fourth straight year, the Binghamton volleyball team has stumbled out of the gate. But after three losses at the North Carolina State Midtown Courtyard Classic this weekend, the 2013 Bearcats (0-6) have posted the worst six-game start in the program’s Division I history.
Binghamton dropped a five-set match to Towson Friday night before falling in straight sets to host NC State and Appalachian State Saturday.
“It’s tough. We’re working on things,” head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “We’re looking at the big picture. We are playing some pretty good teams, we’re a little undermanned right now, so we’re just sort of keeping things in perspective.”
Junior outside hitter Kristin Hovie did not play in either of Saturday’s matches after recording 12 kills against Towson (3-5). Kiriyama would not comment on the reason behind Hovie’s absence.
With Hovie, who ranked second in kills on the 2012 team, sitting on the bench, senior middle hitter Grace Vickers stepped up and led Binghamton with 17 kills between Saturday’s two games. She was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts, which ultimately were not enough to get the Bearcats into the win column.
After engaging in 11 five-set matches in 2012, Binghamton hit the maximum for the first time in 2013 Friday night against Towson. The Bearcats, who evened the match with a 25-20 fourth-set win, battled back from an early 6-3 deficit to take a 13-12 lead in the fifth. But the Tigers rallied for three consecutive points to keep Binghamton winless.
Vickers, Hovie and sophomore hitter Megan Burgess combined for 35 of Binghamton’s 55 kills, while junior setter Amanda Dettmann recorded a match-high 43 assists.
NC State (6-0) made quick work of Binghamton Saturday afternoon, using 25-19 and 25-7 wins in the first two sets to put the Bearcats in a hole. In the third set, Binghamton led 20-17, but the Wolfpack battled back for a 25-22 match-clinching win.
Binghamton hit just .093 to NC State’s .337.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Kiriyama said, according to BUBearcats.com. “[NC State was] pretty efficient offensively which made it difficult for us to get anything going.”
The Bearcats couldn’t come closer than seven against Appalachian State (6-1) Saturday evening. Binghamton posted a .051 percent hitting percentage, with just 28 kills, as Vickers led the team with nine kills.
With seven more non-conference matches, the Bearcats still have plenty of time to find their rhythm before America East play begins on Sept. 29. Kiriyama said he will look to his veterans, who overcame a 2-12 start to 2012 to win the conference tournament and finish with a respectable 13-18 mark, to help the team hit stride.
“We have some experience in the key areas on our team,” Kiriyama said, “so we’re hoping they can lead us and the rest of the team can come around.”
Binghamton is scheduled to return to action Friday evening against Fordham in the Columbia Invitational. The Bearcats will also face Boston College and host Columbia on Saturday.
Play against the Rams (4-3) is set for 5 p.m. Friday at Levien Gymnasium in Manhattan, N.Y.