In its 2018 season debut, the Binghamton volleyball team fell in three matches during the Cleveland State Invitational. The Bearcats (0-3) were defeated by Cleveland State, Canisius and Montana State.
On Friday afternoon, the Bearcats kicked off their season against host team Cleveland State. The Vikings (3-0) have dominated the Horizon League as of late, winning both the regular season title and their conference tournaments in each of the past three seasons.
The first set saw BU jumping out to an 8-2 run early on, with Cleveland State fighting back for most of the frame. After surrendering the advantage for the first time, Binghamton went on a 4-0 run to take a 22-19 lead, but at that point the Vikings took over, scoring six unanswered points to capture the set, 25-22.
BU shined during the second set, however. After tying the frame at five, the team never looked back, preventing Cleveland State from taking the lead for the duration. A 9-2 surge propelled Binghamton to a 25-17 win in what was its only victorious set. The Vikings’ talent showed in the two final frames, with the team winning 25-15 and 25-12.
“They’re a well-coached team, Cleveland State,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “I thought we competed fairly well against them, especially at the beginning of the match. I thought we passed well, had some strong play from our outsides and we just couldn’t sustain it.”
Just hours later, BU faced off against Canisius. The Golden Griffins (1-2) took the first two frames, 25-19 and 25-17, respectively, but Binghamton fought back as the game went on. The Bearcats took the third frame, 25-15.
Binghamton led for much of an exciting fourth set. With the score at 24-22 and BU one point away from taking the sequence, Canisius stepped up with a 4-0 stretch that handed the Bearcats a 3-1 defeat in a hard-fought battle.
Senior outside hitter Gaby Alicea spearheaded Binghamton’s offense throughout the match, tallying 20 kills and six digs. At the conclusion of the tournament, Alicea was named to the all-tournament team.
“At times, [Alicea] carried us a little bit,” Kiriyama said. “She had a nice match against Canisius and was fairly consistent throughout the tournament, both as a passer and as a hitter and on defense.”
Binghamton closed out the tournament on Saturday with a match against Montana State. The Bobcats (2-1) dominated much of the contest. After losing the first frame, 25-15, Binghamton played a hotly contested second set. The teams exchanged points throughout the frame, with Binghamton playing from behind for most of the set. Once BU tied the game at 25, it dropped the final two points and fell, 27-25.
The third set featured an early 3-1 edge for the Bearcats, but a 5-0 run gave Montana State an advantage that remained throughout the entire sequence. The Bobcats ultimately captured the frame, 25-19, taking the match in a sweep and closing out Binghamton’s winless performance at the tournament. Despite the failures in the win column, Kiriyama saw a lot of positives from his team’s start to the season.
“I thought they competed well,” Kiriyama said. “There were strong teams we were up against. We just have certain things to work on. We haven’t been practicing that long, so we knew we had some things still to work on.”
The biggest question mark going into the season for Binghamton was the setter position following the graduation of former setter Sarah Ngo, ‘18. Freshman setter Kiara Adams stepped into the position and issued a solid performance with 84 assists during her three-match collegiate debut.
“I thought Adams, she set a lot this weekend for us, as a freshman, did a really nice job coming in and getting the balls to the hitters,” Kiriyama said.
Next up for Binghamton is a trip to Texas for three matchups as part of the UT-Arlington Tournament.
“It’ll be another tough tournament for us,” Kiriyama said. “But I’m hoping we’ll have a little bit better results, and we just want to continue to get a little bit better, especially more consistent on our offense, both our passing and our ball location.”
The Bearcats open the UT-Arlington tournament with a match against Loyola Maryland on Friday, Aug. 31. First serve is set for 4 p.m. from the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.