With three losses and no wins so far, the Binghamton volleyball team looks to be struggling out of the gate this season. But given the team’s opponents, that 0-3 record is deceiving. At the LMU Invitational in Los Angeles last week, the Bearcats faced some of the top competition in the country, including perennial powerhouse UCLA.
While BU failed to win a set in any of its matchups, they will look to build upon that experience heading into this weekend’s Akron Invitational.
“It was probably one of the toughest levels of competition we have ever been in as a Division-I school,” Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “We learned a lot about our team. Most of the girls had quite a bit of playing time and got into the game so it was good to see everyone contribute and see what they need to work on.”
This weekend, Binghamton will take on Austin Peay, Akron, Bryant and Drake. With BU’s relatively inexperienced roster, this slew of games will give the team a chance to adjust its lineups and player combinations moving forward.
“It is the time to work with different lineups to see what sort of chemistry they have when they play with each other on the court,” Kiriyama said. “We tried people in different positions on the court, our middles, used both setters, so we did experiment quite a bit.”
While BU has veteran leadership at the outside hitter spot with Kristin and Allison Hovie, who combined for 37 kills last weekend, and at the setter spot with senior captain Amanda Dettmann, they still struggle to replace all-conference middle hitter Grace Vickers. Looking to fill the void, freshman Alexis LaGoy has tallied 15 kills so far this season, impressing Kiriyama along the way.
“She hit pretty well against the top-level teams and did okay on the court, so it was good to see that,” Kiriyama said.
Looking for team consistency after a turbulent performance in California, the Bearcats hope that facing competition closer to their own level will give them a chance to capture their first victory. However, wins and losses won’t be BU’s only gauge of success this weekend.
“We are still in the early stages, but I would like to see us come out with one win if not more,” Kiriyama said. “We just want to continue to improve and we just want to see if some people could step up, especially on our serve receive and offense.”
First serve for the Bearcats is set for 3 p.m. Friday as they take on Austin Peay, followed by a matchup with host Akron. The team will then face opponents Bryant and Drake on Saturday, at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively. All contests will take place in the James A. Rhodes Arena.