In college volleyball, teams can win despite being outhit. But the Binghamton volleyball team wasn’t so lucky at the Golden Flashes Classic this weekend, hitting just .142 to their opponents’ .286 and capturing just one set over three matches.
Binghamton, which had won two consecutive games coming into the tournament, was swept by host Kent State and Illinois-Chicago before taking the opening set from Eastern Illinois.
BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said a lot of factors led to the disparity in hitting percentages, citing his team’s serve-receive performance as the most pressing issue.
“We need to work on better ball control, and I think that’ll help our overall hitting percentage,” he said.
Despite the outcomes on the scoreboard, Binghamton had its share of bright spots. Senior hitter and captain Grace Vickers made the all-tournament team after posting 28 kills and hitting .455, while junior setter and captain Amanda Dettmann registered her second double-double of the season with 20 helpers and 10 digs against Kent State (6-6).
With her 27 terminations this weekend, freshman hitter Allison Hovie increased her kills per set average to 2.34, the second-best mark on the team behind Vickers’ 2.66.
Kiriyama said that Hovie has benefited from moving into a key hitting spot in the rotation.
“She’s a pretty steady competitor,” he said of the reasoning behind the switch. “She’s fairly even-keeled on the court, so we moved her … and she’s seeing a few more sets for us.”
Junior hitter Kristin Hovie, who had missed the last five matches with an ankle injury, returned to the floor for two sets against the Golden Flashes before playing every frame against Illinois-Chicago (5-9) and Eastern Illinois (6-7).
“She’s about 100 percent. She’s right there,” Kiriyama said.
Binghamton was also right there at the end of the opening set against Kent State on Friday night, as two service aces by senior libero Xiomara Ortiz sparked a 7-1 Bearcat run that cut the Golden Flashes’ lead to 24-22. But having already fought off two set points, Binghamton couldn’t finish off the comeback.
Kent State proceeded to take the match with 25-15 and 25-19 wins in the second and third sets, respectively.
The Bearcats’ tilt with Illinois-Chicago the following afternoon opened in similar fashion to Friday’s match, with Binghamton using a late first-set run to close the gap. But trailing 22-21, the Bearcats couldn’t get over the hump and ultimately found themselves on the wrong end of another sweep.
Kiriyama said his team needs to learn how to finish sets strong.
“That comes down to consistency and some confidence issues I think,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep working on these things. A lot of them are returners, so they have that experience. Hopefully the rest of them can draw on that.”
The Bearcats’ fortunes turned briefly in the opening set against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. Trailing 20-15, Binghamton reeled off a 5-0 run to pull even en route to a 25-23 victory. But the Panthers responded with 25-16, 25-18 and 25-20 wins in the remaining frames to take the match.
For the second straight season, Binghamton will enter conference play with more than 10 losses. The 2012 Bearcats went 3-12 in the pre-conference slate before getting hot and winning the America East title.
“Every year’s a little bit different, and it comes down to one game here or there, one point here or there,” Kiriyama said. “But they know they can turn it around. They know that they have the capacity to win conference.”
Binghamton is scheduled to open America East play on Sept. 29 at Albany in a rematch of last year’s championship. The match is set for 5 p.m. at University Gym in Albany, N.Y.