Entering the weekend with a respectable 2-2 conference record, the Binghamton University volleyball team tacked on two more losses after it was swept by Stony Brook and downed by Hartford in four frames Friday night and Sunday afternoon, respectively. SBU (12-8, 6-0 America East) cruised past the Bearcats in straight sets while Binghamton (4-15, 2-4 AE) put up a more competitive fight in a very winnable match against the Hawks (9-9, 2-4 AE).
In the opener of the two-game slate, BU remained within reach of the Seawolves at least in the first two frames. Stony Brook took the first two games by scores of 25-20 and 25-22, respectively, before dominating Binghamton in the third sequence, 25-15. Stony Brook held the advantage in points, kills, aces, blocks, assists, digs and errors. Graduate student outside hitter Emily Costello and senior middle blocker McKyla Brooks nearly posted 15 kills each in the sweep.
“They’re a pretty solid team all around, so we just had to prepare for a good offensive team,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “They’ve got one of the best hitters in the conference … we’re trying to do our best to read the plays better and get two blockers up, especially on their middle. We didn’t have enough firepower to keep up with them. Hopefully, we can do better the next time around, though.”
While the offense was stagnant for the Bearcats against Stony Brook, it certainly picked up when the team faced off against Hartford. The trio of senior outside hitter Erin Shultz, graduate student middle hitter Lexi LaGoy and senior outside hitter Gaby Alicea each racked up 12 kills, yet the team as a whole could not contain Hartford junior middle blocker Jenna Bridges. Her 20 kills proved instrumental in the victory as she sealed the match with two down the stretch in the fifth set.
“I know the effort is there, we just gotta keep working and pushing harder in practice to get better in pretty much all facets of our game,” Kiriyama said. “Particularly with digging and blocking, we gotta shore that up and I think we’ll do a lot better going down the stretch.”
For the Bearcats, Sunday’s match denoted the halfway point in the conference season. While the team was 3-3 in conference last year at this mark — one victory behind where it is now — BU was able to capture five out of the remaining six matches. Kiriyama’s squad may be hopeful that it will repeat its late-season magic and secure a spot in the playoffs.
“I think they’re definitely capable of making a good run in the second half of the season,” Kiriyama said. “We got a couple of home games coming, and it’ll give us a good test. We’ve got some young players in certain positions, and hopefully, they can come around in the second half of the season and produce a little bit more for us.”
Up next for BU is a rematch with UMBC, a team that Binghamton edged in the first game of the conference schedule. Tied for last place in AE, the matchup presents another winnable game for the Bearcats and an opportunity the team must capitalize on if it hopes to earn a postseason bid.
“[The first game against UMBC] was a very close match,” Kiriyama said. “In fact, we had to come back against them the first time around, so we want to come out stronger, be competitive early on, not fall behind and we want to be able to control their hitters better because they did outhit us. We want to be able to convert better on our offense and block better to stop their hitters.”
The Bearcats’ upcoming game against the Retrievers is slated for Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. from the West Gym in Vestal, New York.