This past Friday night, the Binghamton volleyball team fell to SUNY Albany in four tightly contested sets. This loss snaps the team’s two-game winning streak, which was its longest so far this season.
“It’s a tough loss,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “The close ones are always the toughest to get over. They just fought well the whole match. I thought we were down at four or five points, we managed to whittle it down a little bit, make a small comeback. We were continually doing that through the whole match.”
The first set began with both teams competing hard, as the squads went nearly point-for-point in the first several minutes of play. A kill from senior outside hitter Gaby Alicea allowed the Bearcats (3-12, 1-1 America East) to tie the game, 10-10. Shortly after, Alicea posted another kill to hand the Bearcats an edge that they maintained for the remainder of the set, winning 25-21. Senior outside hitter Erin Shultz was also critical during this frame, providing four kills.
“[Alicea and Shultz] are probably the most experienced players on the team,” Kiriyama said. “And we do rely on them quite a bit to carry a lot of the load on offense. They’ve been aggressive, they’ve done well and we’ve just gotta get everyone else going a little bit more.”
Sequence two also featured both teams fighting hard, as neither were willing to surrender the lead for long. While BU began the set with four points to Albany’s one, a furious effort by the Great Danes (8-7, 2-0 AE) was all Albany needed to take the advantage. Numerous lead changes later, the Bearcats were trailing by two when Albany called timeout. One kill and two attack errors later, Albany took the game 25-21.
In the third frame, the Great Danes took control early and maintained that level of play for the entire set. The Bearcats, however, were able to keep the score close. As the scoreboard read 21-20 Binghamton, Albany called for a timeout. Following this, Albany tacked on three more points to BU’s two. With the score now 24-22 in favor of Albany, a botched set from freshman setter Kiara Adams prompted a Great Danes victory.
Set four was another back-and-forth affair, as the teams at first went nearly point-for-point until Albany extended it to a 11-5 margin. Six points behind, BU called for a timeout in hopes of regrouping. The break paid dividends as BU went on a 10-4 stretch to tie the sequence. This rally saw kills from graduate student middle hitter Lexi LaGoy, Alicea and junior outside hitter Victoria Keghlian. On top of her kill, LaGoy also scored via a service ace.
Completely without its rhythm, Albany called for a timeout. The teams continued to trade points, tying eight times before the set’s conclusion. Two kills from junior outside hitter Chloe Evering gave Albany the frame and the match, as it overpowered BU, 28-26.
“We did a good job in fighting back in that last set there,” Kiriyama said. “It just came down to a few plays. We just didn’t execute as well as Albany did. They did a nice job.”
Shultz and Alicea combined for 27 kills over the course of the night.
“They’re ready to just go after it this coming weekend,” Kiriyama said. “And I think they’ve got a good mindset going in, and they just wanna do things just a little bit better. Just gotta tighten up certain aspects of our strategy on our offense and defense.”
The Bearcats will take on UMass Lowell on Friday in their first home game of the season. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the West Gym in Vestal, New York.