With the regular season winding down, the Binghamton volleyball team dropped a pair of crucial America East matches this weekend. A four-set loss at UMBC on Friday and a five-set defeat at Stony Brook on Sunday locked the Bearcats (6-18, 4-6 America East) into a four-way tie for fifth place.
With four matches left, Binghamton stands two games behind Albany for the final conference tournament berth.
“The matches were really close,” BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “They could have gone either way. It is just a matter of a point here or there. I think the biggest area for us is unforced errors. Not just hitting but passing and serving. We just didn’t execute when we needed to.”
The Bearcats and UMBC (16-9, 7-3 AE) traded punches early in the first set on Friday. There were nine ties in the first stanza as Binghamton stuck close to the Retrievers before a UMBC run brought the score to 20-12. The Bearcats, led by junior hitter Kristin Hovie, responded with a run of their own to trim the gap to 22-19, but the Retrievers quelled the threat and won the set, 25-20.
BU bounced back in the second with the help of sophomore hitter Shannon Kirkpatrick, who had four kills in the stanza. With the score at 25-24, Kirkpatrick swatted a kill to clinch the set for the Bearcats.
Binghamton was not able to keep the momentum going, however. UMBC captured a nail-biter of a third set, 31-29, as well as the tightly contested fourth, 25-23.
With little time to reflect over the loss, the Bearcats traveled to Long Island for a Sunday afternoon bout with Stony Brook (13-14, 7-3 AE).
Binghamton trailed, 19-13, in the first set before a tremendous rally capped off by a kill by freshman hitter Allie Hovie tied the score at 25. A kill by sophomore hitter Megan Burgess followed by a block-assist from Kristin Hovie and Kirkpatrick gave BU a 29-27 first-set win.
The Seawolves and Bearcats traded victories in the next two sets. Stony Brook took the second, 25-20, and BU, led by senior hitter co-captain Grace Vickers and Burgess, who recorded three kills in the set, captured the third, 26-24.
But BU came out flat in the fourth, as the Seawolves led the set from start to finish and cruised to an easy 25-14 victory.
Three straight kills from Burgess put the Bearcats up, 4-0, in the fifth, but they could not maintain a lead. Binghamton lost the decisive set, 15-12.
“We had a lead in the fifth game there,” Kiriyama said. “[The Seawolves] executed better. They hit pretty well. Once they got going we had a hard time stopping them.”
Junior setter Amanda Dettmann played a huge role on both Friday and Sunday, recording 54 assists and 12 digs against UMBC, and 55 assists, seven digs and two service aces on Sunday.
“She’s a hard worker,” Kiriyama said. “She plays through whatever. She has been one of our most consistent players and vital to our offense.”
Kiriyama also praised senior libero Xiomara Ortiz, who contributed a team-high 22 digs against Stony Brook.
“Xiomara did a nice job passing,” he said. “She didn’t get a lot of chances, but she led us in digs both days.”
With their backs against the wall, the Bearcats will return home this weekend to take on Hartford and Providence in two pivotal conference matchups.
“We probably have to win out to make the conference tournament,” Kiriyama said. “We have to win out and hope for the best.”
First serve is set for 7 p.m. Friday against Hartford, and 3 p.m. Saturday against Providence. Both games will take place in the West Gym.