Entering their final match of the season 0-22, the Bearcats went out with a fight. The third set of the Binghamton volleyball team’s contest against UMBC came down to the wire. The frame was tied at 24, 25 and 26 points apiece as BU tried to stay alive in the match.
This was the team’s final opportunity to earn a win this season, but UMBC scored the final two points of the set, a BU service error and a kill by freshman right-side hitter Emily Ferketic, to complete the sweep and win the match.
“I’m always disappointed to come out on the losing end of any match, especially in conference [play],” said Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “We’re right up there in certain areas of the game, and certainly we feel like we can compete well against all of these teams, so it’s a disappointment to not be able to win any, especially in this long season here. We know we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on.”
The loss means the Bearcats (0-23, 0-10 America East) completed their season without earning a single victory. Only one other BU program in the AE has had a winless season in the school’s entire Division I era, when the 2003 women’s lacrosse team went 0-12 in their second year of Division I play. The team was also one of two Division I volleyball teams in the nation this season that failed to win a match, alongside South Carolina State.
During the 2019 campaign, the Bearcats won just five total sets, losing 69 across their 23 contests. The Bearcats’ last win in a set came on Oct. 4 in a 3-1 home loss to Hartford. Since that match, the team has lost 28 consecutive frames to close out the season, the longest such stretch of the entire year.
“It is tough, but you have to learn from it, or else it’d be a wasted year,” Kiriyama said. “Hopefully they’ve learned what it really takes to compete better — compete well — and they know they have to get better in certain areas of their skillset in order to compete better.”
Binghamton has not won a match since Nov. 4, 2018, over a full year ago.
In the team’s match against UMBC (7-16, 4-6 AE) Sunday afternoon, the Bearcats lost the opening two sets by double digits. In the first frame, the Bearcats struggled to gain traction; the largest lead they held was a 6-4 advantage before UMBC won 21 of the next 28 points to win the set 25-13. The Bearcats as a team had a -.071 hitting percentage in the opening frame. The second frame was somewhat tighter, but BU gave up scoring runs of four and five points late in the frame to drop it 25-15.
The final set was the only one of the three that was truly competitive, with the Bearcats taking several small leads and forcing UMBC to use some timeouts. Faced with a 23-20 deficit, BU rallied off four straight points, which included a kill by junior outside hitter Francela Ulate and a service ace from freshman middle hitter Anna Sprys, to stay in the set. However, the team could not finish the job and ended up dropping the frame, adding another sweep to its winless season.
“The overall ball control on our side, whether it’s digging, just bumping the ball somewhere, we’ve got to handle it a lot better,” Kiriyama said. “To me, that’s the main thing we’ve got to work on, because it affects every other area of the game for us.”
With the program now in the offseason, the team has several months to try to fix the situation that it finds itself in. Only two members of the team will be lost to graduation, so BU will return most of its current roster, but the team will have a lot of work to do to rebound from one of the worst seasons in BU athletics history.