The Binghamton volleyball team lost both of its matches this weekend, remaining winless in the season. The Bearcats (0-18, 0-5 America East) were defeated by Albany and UMBC, extending their losing streak to 18 games.
“We did a good job of keeping the ball in play,” said Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “I see some progress in our passing, our setting and our hitting. We hit for a higher percentage than we did most of the season. We’re working on a lot, but blocking is something that we have to keep working on.”
The Bearcats started off slowly against Albany (9-9, 5-0 AE), with the Great Danes scoring 10 straight points to eventually take the first set 25-10. BU was able to tighten the gap in the last two sets with the help of freshman middle hitter Anna Sprys, who had five blocks and four kills. Senior defensive specialist Kim Lavender also contributed to the effort with 14 digs, higher than anyone on the court. The Bearcats tied the second frame at eight before falling in a 25-17 loss. They came back stronger in the third with a 15-9 run after starting down 10-1, but eventually lost the frame 25-17. Kiriyama said it was tough to find any weaknesses with Albany.
While the Bearcats faltered against the Great Danes, they put on a slightly improved showing against UMBC, keeping each frame close despite losing all three. Freshman outside hitter Audrey Haworth was a big contributor to the performance with her 11 kills and .417 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Francela Ulate also contributed with nine kills, as did sophomore setter Kiara Adams, who recorded 26 assists and two aces.
“Adams had a nice match today, one of the better matches I saw from her in setting and digging,” Kiriyama said. “Audrey [also] had a nice match. She reduced her errors and kept the ball in play when needed and went for it when it was there.”
The Retrievers were able to maintain a small lead throughout the entire first frame, with Binghamton coming within two points of the lead multiple times. In the second frame, the Bearcats held a 14-12 lead, but lost it as the Retrievers found momentum. UMBC closed out the frame scoring five of the final six points. The Bearcats fought harder in the third frame, taking the lead early on, led by performances from Haworth, Ulate and sophomore middle blocker Tyra Wilson. The Retrievers, however, went on a 6-1 run to retake the momentum and finish out the set.
“Against UMBC we match up pretty well,” Kiriyama said. “I thought we competed better as a team against [them]. We were competing hard in games to the end … I saw a little more fight.”
Still without a win, the Bearcats are shaping up to have one of the worst seasons in Binghamton athletics history. Kiriyama said there are multiple factors contributing to the team’s struggles.
“It’s tough to narrow down on anything,” Kiriyama said. “Toward the end of some of the sets, we just couldn’t play the ball that well. We just weren’t able to execute the way we wanted to. Just one or two lapses is what it takes to swing the game four points.”
The Bearcats have next weekend off, continuing their stretch of road games in two weeks at Stony Brook and Hartford.
“These teams are going to be tough, especially on the road — we just have to devise a better scheme defensively against the hitters of Stony Brook and Hartford,” Kiriyama said. “[They] have strong hitters. We have to mitigate that the best we can with blocking and where we place our defensive players. Hopefully we can execute a little better on offense. We just have to serve tough and pass well.”
Binghamton’s next match will take place on Friday, Nov. 1 against Stony Brook. First serve is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. from the Pritchard Gymnasium in Stony Brook, New York.