The Binghamton volleyball team was swept this weekend in the Black Knights Invitational, extending its losing streak to nine games and leaving it still searching for its first win. The team was unable to win a set against Kent State, Army or Bryant this weekend and the team has won just one set in its nine games played thus far in the season.
With many leaders graduating after last season, BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said the team has been left with a lack of experience.
“Experience is an important factor,” Kiriyama said. “There are a lot of variables in volleyball that can only be taught through experience.”
Some of the freshmen on the team put in strong performances in the tournament. In the first match, freshman outside hitter Audrey Haworth led the Bearcats with nine kills, while freshman middle hitter Anna Sprys had six kills on only eight attempts, in addition to five blocks. Kiryiama seems to think that these young players will develop into leaders who will push the team through games in the future.
“Audrey, she’s doing a lot for us already as a freshman, playing all around on both front row and back row, making smart choices,” Kiriyama said. “It’s fun to watch. She will develop into a top player in the conference.”
In the first two matches, the team struggled to execute plays efficiently down the stretch. Against the Golden Flashes, the team led the second set late at 22-20, but eventually lost the frame and the match. Against Army, the team led the third set with an even larger margin of 18-10, but could not hang on to avoid the sweep.
Despite losing all three sets against Bryant, the team appeared to show more fight. Junior outside hitter Francela Ulate and senior outside hitter Victoria Keghlian pulled their weight as upperclassmen, pacing the team with eight and seven kills respectively. Keghlian also recorded a .429 hitting percentage. Younger players, such as sophomore setter Kiara Adams and Haworth, contributed as well, Adams with 17 assists and Haworth with double-digit digs at 10.
“Last game against Bryant, we had more fight,” Kiryiama said. “We were more active on the court communicating a little better, taking a couple points here and there to turn things around. We kept it close for a long period of time with nice aggressive play by [Keghlian]. [Ulate] is up there in aces.”
The final two sets against Bryant came down to the wire, with Binghamton holding a two-point lead at the end of the second set before Bryant scored five of the last six points. In the last set, Binghamton rallied three straight points to tie it at 24, but fell when the Bulldogs scored two straight points.
Next weekend, the Bearcats will again be searching for their first win of the season at the Georgetown Invitational. They will have this week to prepare for their final nonconference tournament of the season. The team will play in three games, starting on Friday with Florida International, then host team Georgetown and finishing out with Morgan State on Saturday. Afterward, just one nonconference matchup remains prior to the start of the conference season. Considering the team’s struggles so far in the season, there are several areas to work on for Kiriyama’s team.
“We need to work on serving, receiving and connecting better with the server and hitter,” Kiriyama said.
First serve in the tournament opener is set for 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 at McDonough Arena in Washington, D.C.