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Volleyball set to face Stony Brook, UMBC

As part of Binghamton’s Homecoming Weekend, the volleyball team is set to host Stony Brook and UMBC in the West Gym Friday and Saturday, respectively. The matches will be the Bearcats’ first at home in the past three weeks, after playing six consecutive matches on the road.

Tycho McManus/Contributing Photographer Senior hitter and captain Grace Vickers leads the Bearcats with a .274 hitting percentage and 45 blocks this season.

“We’re definitely looking forward to returning home,” head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “We’re always excited to play at home.”

The road was not kind to the Bearcats (3-13, 1-2 America East), who dropped five of their six games on the trip. After losing all three contests in the Golden Flashes Classic, the Bearcats started off conference play with a loss at Albany. The team then split its next two AE games, coming from behind to defeat Providence in four sets before losing in straight sets to Hartford.

Kiriyama said he believed that he saw improvement in certain areas on the road trip, but added that the team “just doesn’t have the consistency right now to keep it going at any given time, so it’s been tough.”

On Friday, BU will take on a red-hot opponent in Stony Brook, who has won five of its last six matches and is currently on a three-game winning streak. Senior outside hitter Kaitlin Costello currently leads Stony Brook (8-11, 2-1 AE), as well as the entire America East, with 224 kills.

Following their contest with the Seawolves, the Bearcats will face another tough matchup in UMBC on Saturday. The Retrievers (11-7, 2-1 AE) currently lead the conference in hitting percentage (.199), opponent hitting percentage (.139) and blocks (2.14 per set), while ranking second in assists (11.35 per set) and digs (15.43 per set).

“These two games will give us a really good indication of where we are at,” Kiriyama said. “We are going to have to play well in order to be successful against these teams. We know that there is definitely importance to this weekend.”

The Bearcats are hoping to continue receiving steady play from senior hitter Grace Vickers, who leads the team with a .274 hitting percentage and 45 blocks, and last season’s America East co-setter of the year Amanda Dettmann, who leads the team in assists. Both players were instrumental in the Bearcats’ lone conference win on the past road trip.

The continued contribution from young players is another huge key to success for the Bearcats, especially this weekend.

Kiriyama has praised the consistency displayed by freshman hitter Allison Hovie over the last few weeks.

“[She] has come along and has been very consistent from the outside hitter spot,” he said.

Kiriyama added that sophomore hitter Megan Burgess has shown improvement from the right side.

First serve against Stony Brook is set for 5 p.m. Friday at the West Gym.