For the first time this season, the Binghamton volleyball team emerged on the positive side of a sweep, taking Tuesday night’s home opener from Siena in straight sets.
The Bearcats (2-8), who had lost their first eight matches of 2013, now stand as winners of two straight. Half of their losses have come via the sweep.
“We’ve been struggling trying to find a good rhythm, a good chemistry on the court,” BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “The last weekend and this match [against Siena], it looks like things have sort of changed for us and we’ve gotten over the hill.”
After entering the week with a .152 hitting percentage, Binghamton hit at a season-best .247 clip. Siena, meanwhile, posted a .130 mark.
Senior libero Xiomara Ortiz played a key role in the match, tallying 17 digs. Her 16th, however, earned her a spot in the record books. With it, Ortiz passed Jaclyn Strader’s program-record 1,605 career digs.
But she said she only cared about her impact on the game.
“At least for me, to know I [set the record] is great,” Ortiz said. “It just added onto the win.”
Kiriyama said Ortiz’s efforts helped catalyze the team’s success.
“She’s earned every dig that she’s gotten here,” he said. “She’s done a great job for us. [Against Siena] she kept the ball in play when we needed it. She really took care of her area of the court.”
With senior hitter Grace Vickers leading the charge with three kills, Binghamton jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set. The Saints (1-9) would never come closer than three the rest of the way, as the Bearcats ran away with a 25-16 victory.
“It was nice to see Grace get on a nice roll in the beginning of the match,” Kiriyama said. “She made a big difference at the beginning and got us off to a good start there.”
Vickers opened the second set with a kill, but the Saints countered and took an 11-10 lead about midway through the frame. It would be their only advantage of the entire match.
From there, Binghamton built a lead and, though Siena kept things close, pulled off a 25-20 victory.
The third set started like every other frame, with a Vickers kill. The captain recorded three terminators as the Bearcats jumped out to an 11-8 advantage.
Then, with a combination of service aces, kills and Siena attack errors, Binghamton essentially put the set and match away with a 9-1 spurt. The Bearcats ultimately won the third frame, 25-16.
“Our passing was a lot better,” Kiriyama said. “Our serving was tough. It really took them out of their system. They didn’t pass so well, and they made quite a few errors.”
Freshman hitter Allison Hovie led Binghamton with 12 kills and vied for a second-best .429 hitting percentage, while Vickers added 10 terminators and hit .389. Sophomore hitter Megan Burgess, who capped off a breakout weekend with a career-high 21 kills against Columbia, posted five terminators on Tuesday.
After eclipsing her career-best assists mark with 57 helpers against Columbia, junior setter Amanda Dettmann distributed 33 assists against the Saints.
With four kills and a .111 hitting percentage, freshman hitter Bianca Anderson did not stand out in the box score. But Kiriyama took note of her effort.
“It was good to see Bianca get a few kills there,” he said. “It looked like she was having fun out there and finally getting into a small rhythm there with our setter.”
The Bearcats enter the final phase of non-conference play this weekend, as they are slated for three games at the Golden Flashes Classic. Binghamton is scheduled to open the tournament tonight against host Kent State.
Play is set for 7 p.m. at the MAC Center in Kent, Ohio.