The Binghamton volleyball team extended its season-opening losing streak to 15 this weekend. The Bearcats (0-15, 0-2 America East) dropped their first two conference matches of the season, falling to Hartford on Friday night in four sets and being swept by Stony Brook on Sunday afternoon.
“We still have a lot to work on,” said Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “We are a young team without much experience. We are trying to learn how to execute better. It’s frustrating at times and you wish they would learn a little bit quicker, but that’s part of having a team without experience.”
On Friday, Binghamton opened the two-game home stand with a 3-1 loss to Hartford. The Hawks (10-7, 2-0 AE) won the first two sets, both closely contested, before Binghamton cruised to a 25-17 win in the third frame. This marked the Bearcats’ fifth victory in a set all season. Hartford responded well with a convincing 25-18 win in the fourth set to clinch a victory in the match. For the Bearcats, junior outside hitter Francela Ulate led the offense with 14 kills in the match.
Although Sunday’s loss to the Seawolves (6-11, 1-1 AE) was in straight sets, the Bearcats did manage to bring the score closer each set, losing 25-16 in the first set, 25-18 in the second set and 25-19 in the last set. The first set saw the Bearcats jump out to a quick 3-0 lead in front of a home crowd before a service error gave Stony Brook possession, allowing the Seawolves to go on a 6-1 run to make the score 6-4. The teams went back and forth until Stony Brook pulled away to win the set comfortably.
The Seawolves picked up where they left off in the second set, dominating the overwhelmed Bearcats en route to an 18-9 lead. Binghamton battled back to make the score 22-18, seizing the momentum with two separate 4-0 runs, each highlighted by a Binghamton block at the net.
“It was great to see them battle back,” Kiriyama said. “There is a lot of fight in this team. We want them to play every point like it’s a match point and they do that — they do not give up. No matter the score, they are going to play hard until the final whistle.”
The 22-18 deficit was the closest the Bearcats got to a win in the set, however, as Stony Brook scored three unanswered points to end the set. The third set was the most evenly matched and competitive set, as the teams went back and forth and were deadlocked at 16 before Stony Brook iced the game with a 9-3 run, winning the third set 25-19 to complete the sweep.
While each set had a different dynamic, there was a common thread in all of them — Stony Brook senior outside hitter Maria Poole. Poole had 12 kills on 14 total attacks and no attack errors for an impressive .857 hitting percentage.
“We couldn’t stop [Poole] tonight,” Kiriyama said.
On the defensive end, it was junior defensive specialist Kiani Kerstetter who led the way for the Seawolves with 14 digs. For the Bearcats, sophomore middle blocker Tyra Wilson had a team-high seven kills, and senior defensive specialist Kim Lavender led the team with seven digs.
The Bearcats will look to pick up their first win of the season on Friday, Oct. 11 against New Hampshire. First serve is set for 7 p.m. at the Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, New Hampshire.