Jonathan Heisler/Photo Editor

For the third time in program history, the Binghamton University volleyball team was swept by Pennsylvania State University in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Championship on Friday. Top-ranked Penn State (30-2) conquered the America East champion Bearcats (13-18, 8-4 AE) in three sets, 25-11, 25-3, 25-9, riding a .587 hitting percentage to advance to the second round.

Binghamton senior outside hitter Iva Partaleva led BU with six kills, and junior defensive specialist Xiomara Ortiz led with seven digs.

“We didn’t play our best ball, but I’m sure Penn State had a lot to do with it,” said Glenn Kiriyama, Binghamton head coach and America East Coach of the Year. “We did the best we could on that day.”

Penn State dominated the match, recording 40 kills and just three attack errors in 63 attack attempts. The Nittany Lions also registered 12 service aces, 10 of which came at the hands of sophomore setter Micha Hancock, and held Binghamton to a mere -.075 hitting percentage through three sets.

Binghamton opened the first set strong, pulling to within two of the No. 1 seed on the strength of four Partaleva kills to make the score 10-8. But Penn State then went on an 11-1 run, propelling the Nittany Lions to a 25-11 first set victory. Penn State posted a .692 attack percentage in the first set, recording 19 kills and a single attack error. From there, the tempo for the rest of the match was set, and the Bearcats would not recover.

The Nittany Lions scored 20 points in a row to open the second set en route to a 25-3 trouncing. Hancock highlighted the set with six service aces and seven assists as the Nittany Lions kept Binghamton from registering a single kill.

Penn State came out firing on all cylinders once again to start the third set, notching the first 13 points on its way to securing a 25-9 victory and first-round win.

“It was the most incredible experience I have ever had,” junior middle hitter Grace Vickers said. “The environment, the entire stadium was full. About 2,500 people were there. It was crazy to see how much support they have.”

With the win, the Nittany Lions advanced into the second round, where they swept Bowling Green State University on Saturday and punched their ticket to the Regional Semifinals.

Binghamton closed out its season with a 13-18 overall record and its third America East Championship title. The Bearcats are set to return 10 of 12 players to next year’s squad.

“I thought the girls had a tremendous season,” Kiriyama said. “We had some big wins and accomplished quite a bit. I am very happy with this team.”

Melissa Edelblum contributed to this report.