As the Binghamton volleyball team continues its America East (AE) conference campaign, the Bearcats swept University of Massachusetts Lowell (1-15, 0-4 AE) Friday evening and fell to University of New Hampshire, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon in its first home matches of the season. The weekend began with the Bearcats (4-13, 2-2 AE) sweeping the Riverhawks at their first match of the season at the West Gym.
“It was a very tough match,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “It was pretty evenly matched [and] I was impressed that we were able to keep battling.”
Despite Binghamton winning all of the sets, each game was tightly contested, with the Bearcats winning 25-21, 25-22 and 26-24. Senior outside hitter Gaby Alicea led the way with 14 kills and freshman setter Kiara Adams recorded a game-high 29 assists.
“I think we were behind a lot in that match,” Kiriyama said. “They battled well, fought back well and were able to execute with their offense. The outsides had a nice match at the end there.”
Sunday’s match marked the first time the Bearcats have faced New Hampshire (8-11, 4-1 AE) since the 2017 AE semifinals, a series match that was captured by Binghamton in a sweep.
“They’re always a really close matchup with us,” Kiriyama said. “It’s always a battle with them, they compete well.”
The first set began competitively for both teams, but with New Hampshire leading 15-13, the Wildcats went on a 10-3 surge to take the first game, 25-16.
“[The match was] really up and down,” Kiriyama said. “We had some good parts and some not-so-good parts there. We just didn’t control the ball well on our side. That would have made it a bit easier on offense. Our offense suffered a little bit and we just weren’t able to get the sets that we wanted to the right hitters when we needed it.”
The second game was the high point of the match for the Bearcats. The Wildcats failed to take the lead for the duration of the set, with BU winning the first point and never looking back.
“I thought we hit a lot better all around,” Kiriyama said. “Meaning that all of our players are involved. I thought we handled the ball a little better with our passing and served tougher in that second set.”
Much of the third set was dominated by UNH. Although play was tight early on, a 9-1 run in the middle of the game gave the Wildcats a 15-9 lead that they did not relinquish, winning the frame 25-16.
BU won the first serve of the fourth set, but New Hampshire went on a 5-0 stretch, fueling an advantage it did not surrender for the remainder of the sequence. The Bearcats fought back, keeping the game relatively close, but ultimately the team fell 25-20, losing the set and the match 3-1.
“It was tough, it was tough out there,” Kiriyama said. “But New Hampshire’s a good team.”
Adams was again the game-leader in assists, posting 31, and sophomore outside hitter Samantha Gioiosa recorded 25 digs in the losing effort.
Presently, the Bearcats sit at a .500 conference record with a rematch of last season’s AE Championship match against Stony Brook upcoming. Kiriyama knows his team needs to up its game in order to secure conference victories critical to this season’s success.
“We gotta improve,” Kiriyama said. “It’s gonna be tough here on out. No match is easy. Hartford and Stony Brook will be tough matches for us on the road [and] we’re just hoping to win some and pick up a few wins on the road here and there.”
First serve against Stony Brook is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12 from the Pritchard Gymnasium in Stony Brook, New York.