After the Binghamton volleyball team sent Albany home early at last season’s America East championship game, the revenge-seeking Great Danes dismissed the Bearcats in straight sets on Sunday at University Gym.
“I know the team is disappointed in the way we performed,” head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “But it’s the first [conference] game of the season, and hopefully we gather ourselves and come back strong.”
Sophomore middle blocker Shannon Kirkpatrick set the tone early with three quick kills to help the Bearcats (2-12, 0-1 AE) open up the first set on a 14-7 run. However, Albany (1-12, 1-0 AE) countered with a 14-3 run of its own en route to a 25-22 first set victory.
The Bearcats had trouble keeping up with the Great Danes the rest of the way. Albany jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the second set while holding BU to a negative hitting percentage over that span. After a BU timeout, the Great Danes came out strong again, going on a 5-0 run. Albany posted a .391 hitting percentage to overwhelm Binghamton 25-14 in the second.
In the third set, the Bearcats never had a lead as Albany started the stanza on a 9-3 run and never looked back. BU converted 12 kills to the Great Danes’ 10, but a resilient Albany defense kept Binghamton’s opportunities in check.
Kiriyama said that dropping the first set had a huge effect on his team.
“We had a good lead in the first game and then we fell flat,” he said. “If we would have executed better it definitely would have made a difference in the match.”
According to Kiriyama, the Bearcats were their own worst enemy in the match, shooting themselves in the foot with careless mistakes.
“We had way too many errors,” Kiriyama said. “It had a vital impact on our performance and we must play better.”
Binghamton fell well below its season average hitting percentage of .147, which was ranked 278th in the entire NCAA as of Friday. Overall, the team finished the game with a hitting percentage of .091, nine service errors and 25 attack errors compared to Albany’s 13.
Sophomore middle blocker Tatum Jungsten and freshman middle blocker Amanda Dolan led the way for Albany with eight kills each, while freshman setter Mikala McCauley finished with 24 assists.
Freshman outside hitter Allison Hovie, who finished with a match-high 13 kills, shone as a bright spot for Binghamton for the second straight weekend.
“She has emerged as one of our top hitters,” Kiriyama said. “She is very consistent, which is huge for us right now as we try to find some consistence.”
Junior setter Amanda Dettmann also chipped in 27 assists.
The Bearcats began their 2013 campaign on a Division-I program worst eight-game losing streak before winning two of their last five non-conference matches. The Great Danes got off to a challenging start to their season, facing three teams that appeared in the NCAA top-25 rankings. They dropped their first 12 non-conference matches while managing to win only two sets.
Now riding a four-game losing skid, Binghamton is next set to take on Providence on Friday..
First serve is set for 6 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I.