With its postseason hopes on the line, the Binghamton volleyball team hosted a critical game on Friday night against the Hawks. Although the Bearcats (5-20, 3-9 America East) ultimately fell in a far less significant match on Sunday to Stony Brook, Friday’s loss to Hartford (11-13, 4-8 AE) sealed BU’s disappointing season. The outcome of Friday’s game featured the Hawks’ triumph in four sets, and in Sunday’s match versus Stony Brook, Binghamton was swept in three sets.
“It was a really intense match [on Friday],” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “We didn’t play as great as I would’ve liked to. We tried hard, but they just played a lot better than we did tonight. Right now, they’re just a better team than we are.”
In Friday’s game against Hartford, senior outside hitter Gaby Alicea led the Bearcats in kills with a total of 18, and graduate student middle hitter Lexi LaGoy was second with 10.
Friday night, the West Gym was host to an energetic crowd. Fans were cheering all evening, surely hoping that their enthusiasm could give the home team the motivation it needed to obtain its victory and secure a playoff bid.
The first sequence was tightly contested. The score was kept within just two points for some time until BU began to pull ahead to a four-point lead via three consecutive kills from LaGoy. It was at this instance that Hartford went on a run, scoring eight consecutive points to gain a three-point edge. The teams continued to battle, going back and forth until an attack error from Alicea cemented the Hawks’ win, taking the set 25-21.
Looking to prevent Hartford from extending its advantage in the match, BU came back fighting hard against its opponent in the second frame. As tenaciously as the Bearcats battled, the Hawks responded just as strong. The teams traded points relentlessly, and the lead was never larger than three points until the very end. With the score at 21-20, a kill from LaGoy kicked off a four-point stretch for BU, which ended with the Bearcats taking the second set, 25-20.
“They know they’ve gotta battle for every point, and every point’s important,” Kiriyama said. “So they know they’ve gotta put in maximal effort on every ball, and stay in it. They’ve gotta ignore the scoreboard and just go after it. And I know that’s tough for them to do sometimes, but that’s what they’ve been trained to do.”
BU started the third set solid, scoring point after point until the scoreboard read 18-10. Not looking to fall behind, the Hawks managed to rally on both ends of the court to overcome the large deficit. After a nail-biting exchange, Hartford’s efforts paid off as it took the set, 27-25.
“They were aggressive,” Kiriyama said. “They tooled our block a lot, and then our hitters couldn’t get past their block. So that made all of the difference in the world.”
The fourth and final set began in a tight race. The teams traded leads, but neither was able to hold it for long. In the end, the Hawks came out on top, ending the set with a six-point victory. With this defeat, the Bearcats were eliminated from the postseason.
“I thought we played hard tonight,” Kiriyama said, per bubearcats.com. “Hartford is a good team and tonight they were the better team. We didn’t quite execute our plays the way we needed to and it hurt us. But we still have another game left and we want to end the season on a good note.”
On Sunday, BU hosted the undefeated Seawolves (19-8, 12-0 AE) for its final game of the season. While BU fought hard during the first set, Stony Brook featured the prowess it has displayed for the entirety of this season, taking set two with an 11-point victory and set three by nine points.
With the losses, the Bearcats end their volleyball season with a 3-9 AE record and a 5-20 overall record, demonstrating a .200 winning percentage in total games played.