The Binghamton volleyball team kicked off its regular season with the Delaware Classic in Newark, Delaware, and were swept in all three matches they played, starting the season off with an unsuccessful weekend effort.
“Overall, I just thought we started slow this weekend,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “New players and everything. So, it was tough … But I thought they played better as the weekend went on … A lot of good things, but obviously a lot of things we need to work on.”
Late Friday afternoon, the Bearcats (0-3) took part in their first match of the season against Coppin State (2-2). The first frame was tightly contested, with both teams trading points and neither obtaining any significant edge. The score remained close until the very end, at which point Coppin State scored three straight to take the set 25-23. The close margins set the tone for the day, as the following two sets were fairly tight, with the Eagles winning both by six points each.
“I thought we didn’t have a great match against Coppin State,” Kiriyama said. “We just never seemed to get a good rhythm going even though it was tight. The other team made quite a few errors, but we made just as many … maybe just a little too much there. It was tight, but they were able to get some nice plays going late in the match.”
Junior defensive specialist Elizabeth Kaner led BU in its opener with 12 digs, and freshman setter Emma Rainville recorded 12 assists.
On Saturday afternoon, the Bearcats headed onto the hardwood once again for the first match of a doubleheader, with the opener against the hosts of the event, University of Delaware (2-1). To begin, Delaware took an early lead, which was quickly contested by BU. With the score knotted at 15 in the opening set, the Blue Hens went on a 10-2 run to take the set 25-17. The Blue Hens proved to be the dominant team for the remainder of the match, taking the following two sets by double-digit margins. Their 25-8 and 25-13 wins gave Delaware a sweep in the match. Kaner continued her strong play from Friday, leading the team in digs with 11.
“[Kaner] is one of the returners that we’re relying a lot upon to really anchor our back-row defense,” Kiriyama said. “She’s learning, she’s getting better, and she’s making better and better decisions as we go along here.”
Later that afternoon, the Bearcats faced West Virginia (3-0), the team’s final opponent for the weekend. While this match was more competitive, BU remained unable to take any sets, losing to the Mountaineers in three frames.
The Bearcats struggled throughout the match, but battled hard against their opponent in the more tightly contested second and third frames. Though the Bearcats were close, BU was unable to win a set, losing the game 25-17, 25-20 and 25-21.
This season, BU’s roster has taken on a different look as many major contributors have departed, and some new faces have joined the ranks. Standout players such as outside hitters Gaby Alicea and Erin Shultz, as well as middle hitter Lexi Lagoy, graduated last year.
“It’s pretty much a completely different dynamic,” Kiriyama said. “I think last year we relied on a couple of players to really pull us out of matches and get us going, but this year I think it’s a little bit more even overall. A lot of different players contributing in a lot of different ways. It’s fun to watch … We can develop that to a better consistency and have better success.”
Next up for the team is a trip to New Jersey to participate in the Seton Hall Classic. There, the Bearcats will play another trio of games, taking on La Salle, Seton Hall and Northeastern.
First serve in the opener against the Explorers (1-2) is set for Friday, Sept. 6 at 1:30 p.m. from the Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, New Jersey.