In search of its first win of the 2013 season, the Binghamton volleyball team is set to participate in the Columbia Invitational this weekend at Levien Gymnasium. The Bearcats (0-6), off to the worst start in program history, will face Fordham in the opening round tonight.
Binghamton snapped a season-opening three-game losing streak in 2012 with a 3-0 win over Fordham, and head coach Glenn Kiriyama said he hoped for the same result this time around.
“It’d be nice to win, but we just want to improve every day,” he said. “The focus is getting ready for conference. We’re playing some pretty quality opponents, opponents that are pretty competitive.”
Despite placing eighth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, the Rams (5-3) have won four of their last five matches and finished second in the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Challenge. They’ve been led by senior hitter Lisa Hipp, who has posted a team-high 92 kills, and senior setter Sara Konkel. Konkel, the team leader with 243 assists, played just one set against Binghamton in 2012.
The Bearcats will be thinner up-front, as hitter Iva Partaleva graduated last spring as the team’s kills leader in 2012, and junior hitter Kristin Hovie may be sidelined with the same injury that forced her out of action last Saturday. Kiriyama said Hovie’s status remained “up in the air” as of Thursday afternoon.
After facing Fordham, Binghamton will square off against Boston College on Saturday afternoon and Columbia at night.
Coming off a sweep as the hosts of the BC Invitational, the Eagles (5-2) ride a wave of momentum into this weekend. Boston College has lost just two sets in its last three matches combined.
Sophomore hitter Katty Workman leads the Eagles with 122 kills on the season, and she ranks No. 11 in the nation with 4.69 kills per set. She’s joined up front by senior hitter Melissa McTighe, who leads all Eagle hitters with a .331 hitting percentage, while junior setter Kellie Barnum and her 7.89 assists per set pace the game in the back.
Columbia (0-3) remains winless after getting swept at Northwestern’s Wildcat Challenge. The Lions, however, rank first in the Ivy League with 2.5 blocks per set.
Sophomore hitters Lucy Tilton and Atlanta Moye-McLaren lead the Lions up front with 3.5 and three kills per set, respectively, while freshman setter Jennifer Petrovich has posted 7.5 assists per set in the first three matches of her collegiate career.
Despite the rough start, Kiriyama said his team understands the importance of effort over outcome in non-conference play. The Bearcats lost their first three matches in 2012 and carried a 3-12 record into the America East slate, but they bounced back and won the conference tournament.
Though this year’s team has several new faces, Kiriyama said the team could learn from Grace Vickers, Amanda Dettmann and Hovie, all of whom experienced last year’s ups and downs.
“They’re really the catalysts of the whole team, just the attitude and how they push themselves and stuff,” Kiriyama said. “They’re really good examples on the court and in practice. They’re the ones that push the others to, hopefully, greater levels of execution.”
Binghamton and Fordham are set to face off tonight at 5 p.m. at Levien Gymnasium in Manhattan.