In its opening home game of the 2019 season, the Binghamton volleyball team faced off against the Siena Saints in its final nonconference match of the year. Though the Bearcats were competitive in each set, the team could not finish the job down the stretch, dropping each of the match’s sets in a sweep to the Saints (6-6, 1-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).
“I thought, for the most part, we played pretty poor out there,” said Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “Just simple errors, unforced errors, too many. A lot of them just really didn’t play that well tonight. Just a couple of them, I thought, played decent.”
The Bearcats (0-13) managed to hold a lead for most of the first set, maintaining a three- or four-point advantage for much of the frame. The bulk of Binghamton’s offense was led by freshman outside hitter Audrey Haworth in the opening frame, who put up six kills in the first set alone. Late in the first set, BU led by a score of 20-16, and then again by a score of 22-19.
Eventually, the Saints’ offense began to click, and they gained some momentum in the set. Aided by a service ace by freshman defensive specialist Gracie Halley and a kill by junior outside hitter Dakota Jackson, Siena was able to tie the score at 22 apiece. After a BU timeout, freshman outside hitter Ally-Reese Williams scored a kill that gave Siena its first lead in the set, a lead it would hold through the short remainder of the frame.
“We had trouble picking up some of the short balls they were tipping over,” Kiriyama said of the first set. “[We] really didn’t react well. [Siena was] making some errors to start with, with their services and stuff, so they were sort of giving us some points, but down the stretch, they played pretty solid. They were passing well and digging well on their side.”
The second set featured a strong performance by Siena. The Saints established a solid lead in the opening points of the frame, and junior outside hitter Nicole Deobler and Williams continued to contribute offensively for the Saints to establish this lead, which was compounded by several errors made by Bearcat players. Despite this, a small run toward the end of the set pulled the Bearcats in closer, but Siena still took the set by five.
Siena continued its strong play in the third, jumping out to a lead by the midway point in the set, but BU refused to go away. On Haworth’s serve, BU tallied five consecutive points to tie the set. Haworth and senior outside hitter Victoria Keghlian contributed a kill each on this run, and Siena committed two attack errors and a bad set, forcing the Saints to use a timeout.
After Siena’s timeout, the Saints regrouped, mustering five of the next eight points scored to win the match. Senior middle blocker Kelly Chaney tallied the final kill of the contest, handing the Bearcats their 10th sweep of the season and their 13th consecutive loss.
Haworth led the Bearcats in kills with 10 and contributed 11 points and an ace in the home opener. As a freshman, Kiriyama seems to believe that her increased production in the team’s matches will be a boon for the squad down the road when conference play begins.
“She’s been maybe one of our most consistent contributors to our team,” Kiriyama said. “She’s played all six rotations, doesn’t really come out. She’s a hard worker, tries her best and tonight she was able to get quite a few kills for us.”
Up next for the Bearcats is an eight-day break before conference play begins. Kiriyama plans to use the break to improve on many facets before the team’s America East (AE) opener on Oct. 4.
“We just have to really work hard,” Kiriyama said. “It almost doesn’t matter what we’re working on, but for sure, we need to continue to work on our ball control on our side … If we can serve tougher and pass a bit better, I think we’ll see great improvement in our offense.”
The Bearcats’ AE opener will take place on Friday, Oct. 4 at home against Hartford. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the West Gym in Vestal, New York.