The Binghamton volleyball team started off a series of five on-the-road matches on Friday with a match against the University of New Hampshire. Continuing the trend for this season, the Bearcats (0-16, 0-3 America East) were swept by the Wildcats (12-5, 1-1 AE).
“I thought we competed well the first two sets of the match, able to execute whenever we handled the ball well on our side,” said Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “Our hitters did a nice job, especially in the first set. In that second set, [we] sort of tailed off a little bit. Third set sort of got away from us there early on. It was tough to fight back.”
During the first two sets, BU was able to keep the score close. It was only during set three that the team really slowed, seemingly unable to get started offensively until the very end.
In the first frame, neither team was able to mount any significant edge throughout. Both teams fought hard and there was a lot of action. With the score 24-22, a kill by redshirt sophomore middle hitter Elis Gadelha via sophomore setter Kiara Adams brought the Binghamton team one point closer to tying the set, but a service error from junior outside hitter Francela Ulate ended the set in favor of the Wildcats.
Set two saw a similar situation. To start, the Wildcats went on a 4-1 run. Not looking to go down so easily, the Bearcats’ offense improved and made the set more competitive. Two kills in a row by freshman outside hitter Audrey Haworth gave the Bearcats a one-point margin in the set, 9-8.
“[Haworth is] just a hard worker,” Kiriyama said. “Pretty even-keeled player, so she’s sort of a rock out there. They have to rely on her. She’s in on every play, she’s pretty active out there. She’s a good player, she was serving well, scored our last few points there in that third set and she’s been improving. Her mental toughness has gotten better, I think. She’s making better choices, trying to keep the team together in those tough times. She’s doing a lot out there and we’re happy to see her progress.”
The teams continued to trade points, though it was not long before the Wildcats began to pull ahead. Soon, the Bearcats were down 20-14, and the deficit proved too great to overcome. While the team fought hard to bring the score closer, the set ended with BU falling by four points, marking another close set that BU was unable to close out, continuing what has become a trend this season.
“A lot of it’s just mental right now,” Kiriyama said. “Because physically, we’re just as good as a lot of these teams. Mentally, we’ve just gotta get a little bit tougher, a little more confidence, especially in those moments, things we’ll definitely be working on.”
During set three, it seemed that the Bearcats had lost their head of steam. The Wildcats began the set with four unanswered points, which soon developed into a 10-3 run, and they never looked back.
With the score 24-6, the Bearcats’ offense shifted into a better gear, but it was too little and much too late. They were able to score five more before a kill ended the set and the match.
“We started off really slow, they served really tough,” Kiriyama said. “Our passing was not great. [The Wildcats] aced us quite a few times at the beginning of the third set, and that set the tone. And I thought they blocked a little bit better, because our passing was a little erratic and they were able to set up their block a little bit better in those instances. And maybe they served a little bit tougher. They picked up their play a little bit, and we definitely didn’t pick up ours. We just couldn’t keep pace with them.”
Haworth and Ulate ended the night with 10 kills each. Haworth also had nine digs, as did senior defensive specialist Kim Lavender.
The loss marks the 16th-straight defeat for the team, which is still searching for its first win of the season. With tough road games ahead before a three-game stint at home, the remainder of the season won’t be easy for the Bearcats.
“We look forward to the games, and we’ve got a couple of tough ones on the road this coming weekend,” Kiriyama said. “So we’re trying our best to prepare for Albany and UMBC.”
Next up is a match against Albany on Friday, Oct. 18. First serve is set for 7 p.m. from the University Gym in Albany, New York.