Two weeks ago, the Binghamton volleyball team lost a five-set thriller against America East (AE) rival UAlbany. On Sunday afternoon at the West Gym, the Bearcats got their revenge in a rematch. BU swept the Great Danes in three straight sets to take sole possession of first place in the conference standings, heading into its final regular season match.
“I’m very happy with today’s performance,” said Binghamton head coach Allie Yaeger. “We didn’t know if we could beat Albany … confidence is a huge thing that we can take away from today’s match.”
Despite a back-and-forth start in the first set, with both teams exchanging points, BU (16-7, 7-2 AE) began to pull away after the 8-8 mark. The Great Danes (7-18, 2-6 AE) struggled to find their groove as the Bearcats went on an 8-3 run to take a five point lead, which stood for the remainder of the set. With a kill from junior outside hitter Tsvetelina Ilieva, Binghamton took the first set 25-18, recording three aces in the process while avoiding any from Albany.
“What really sticks out to me tonight was our serve and our serve receive game,” Yaeger said. “We served really aggressively with a lot of aces.”
In the second set, BU came out of the gates hot, taking an early 12-7 lead thanks to a 7-2 run. This forced the Great Danes to call an early timeout, their first of the match. After the timeout, UAlbany stayed stagnant, unable to keep up offensively with Binghamton. From then on, BU continued to build on its early lead, going on a 10-3 run and getting offensive contributions from several different players. Freshman outside hitter Giulia Bonifacio, junior outside hitter Stefana Stan and Ilieva all got kills during that run. The Bearcats remained in control as they closed out the set 25-15 and took a 2-0 set lead in the game.
“We were in system a lot, we were able to set whoever we wanted to set,” Yaeger said. “Our distribution across the board was really good…we took them out of system.”
In the third set, the Great Danes started off strong, taking a 7-5 lead. However, UAlbany did not hold its advantage for long, as the Bearcats came storming back — going on a 7-1 run and taking the lead 12-8. After a UAlbany timeout, the away side gathered some momentum, cutting its deficit to two. BU produced another run, taking an 18-15 lead. Despite Binghamton’s run, the visitors stayed competitive during the match’s final set. The Great Danes responded with three straight points to make it 18-16. The two teams traded a pair of points before the Bearcats ended the game with a 5-0 run, powered by two service aces from sophomore defensive specialist Sydney Aguirre.
“With the amount of aces and blocks that we had, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to dig the ball or put the ball away,” Yaeger said. “But when those opportunities came around, I thought all of our pins did a really great job.”
Stan and Ilieva spearheaded the offense with 10 kills apiece, doing so with help from freshman setter Lottie Scully, who assisted on 26 of BU’s points. Bonifacio added eight kills of her own to reinforce the offense, and defensively, senior middle hitter Anna Sprys contributed six total blocks to the winning effort.
“I think that all the pins did a really good job,” Yaeger said. “Execution is always our big thing. We want to be able to finish sets and matches.”
Following the penultimate match against Albany, Binghamton will wrap up the regular season with an AE matchup against Bryant on Sunday, Nov. 13. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Chase Athletic Center Main Gym in Smithfield, Rhode Island.