“It’s different, conference [play] is a different experience in itself,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “The intensity level goes up a little bit.”
BU began the match with a point on the first serve, marking its only lead of the entire frame. Albany went on a 6-1 run to take a 6-2 advantage. The Bearcats eventually called a timeout trailing 13-8 and another trailing 19-12. Neither proved to be effective as Albany continued to dominate the sequence, winning 25-17.
The second set began with a strong showing from the Bearcats. Binghamton opened the frame on a 6-1 run, forcing a Great Danes’ timeout. Albany responded after the break and picked up its intensity to tie the game at 12. Even though BU scored the next point, the Great Danes countered with a 5-0 stretch to take a 17-13 edge. Binghamton’s comeback efforts produced a one-point deficit, but Albany closed out the sequence by posing a 5-1 run, winning the second set 25-20.
Binghamton put forth its best effort in the third set. A string of kills propelled the Bearcats to an early 8-2 advantage, prompting an Albany timeout. BU continued to apply pressure and pushed the score to 15-8, forcing another timeout. Neither stoppage proved to be effective as the Bearcats rolled over the Great Danes and captured a victory, 25-14.
“Our serves came alive toward the second half of the match,” Kiriyama said. “And our middle has continued to excel.”
The fourth set was the most contested of the match. In a back-and-forth beginning, Albany managed to take a short-lived 15-13 lead. BU ultimately rebounded with six consecutive points to establish a 19-15 edge. Despite the change in momentum, a timeout called by Albany head coach MJ Engstrom resulted in a shift in Albany’s favor. Soon after, the Great Danes captured a 21-20 lead and finished on a 6-2 run to win the set 25-23, as well as the match 3-1.
“We didn’t pass well enough to run a very diversified offense, so that hurt us against them,” Kiriyama said. “And they sort of came down on our outside who had a tough time tonight.”
Despite outperforming the Great Danes in points, kills, aces and assists, the Bearcats were not able to perform well enough within each individual frame to earn a victory. With the loss, Binghamton fell to 3-11 overall on the season and 0-1 in conference play. Albany picked up its first win and currently sits at 1-12 on the season and 1-0 in conference play.
When asked about upcoming AE matchups and the remainder of the season, Kiriyama acknowledged there is clear room for improvement.
“We gotta get better in a lot of different areas, we gotta serve a little more accurate, pass a lot better,” Kiriyama said. “If we could do just these small things, I think things will be okay for us down the stretch here.”
Seeking their first conference victory, the Bearcats will next battle UMass Lowell on Friday, Sept. 29 at home. First serve is slotted for 7 p.m. at the West Gym in Vestal, New York