After dropping three straight matchups to conference opponents, the Binghamton volleyball team looked to bounce back as it hosted UMBC this past Friday evening at the Events Center. At the game’s conclusion, the Retrievers (6-15, 2-5 America East) cruised past BU (4-16, 2-5 AE) in four sets, the third of which had a +12 point differential in favor of UMBC.
“It’s disappointing,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “They just outplayed us tonight. We just didn’t execute very well, our passing wasn’t great and that really hurt our offense. I felt like we couldn’t get anything going throughout the whole match. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The first set began with UMBC scoring four quick points to just one from Binghamton. An attack error later by UMBC freshman outside hitter Paige Krenik put the Bearcats in a position to begin scoring some more points. It was a service ace from sophomore outside hitter Samantha Gioiosa that allowed BU to gain its first one-point edge of the night. The Retrievers, however, were able to prevent Binghamton from further extending its lead. The teams went nearly point-for-point until a kill from junior outside hitter Victoria Keghlian gave BU a 21-20 lead, which was then extended by an attack error and a service ace. UMBC was unable to overcome the deficit, and the Bearcats took the first set and their only game, 25-22.
The second set was tightly contested, and both teams came out with a strong effort. BU and UMBC exchanged points until the set’s midpoint, when the Retreivers began to pull ahead. Following numerous strong offensive and defensive sets, UMBC was able to overpower the Bearcats decisively by seven points.
“We’ve just gotta execute better,” Kiriyama said. “Just staying on top of things, playing sound volleyball. We just didn’t play very smart tonight … we let balls drop that shouldn’t have been dropping. Really I wished our defense could have been more intense … we didn’t dig that many balls and couldn’t handle balls that were hit to us, it’s hard to explain.”
The third set was all UMBC. While both teams were evenly matched for the first few moments of the set, the Retrievers gained a head of steam that could not be stopped. The Bearcats were unable to score more than 15 points before UMBC overcame them in the set, 25-13.
“They are a good blocking team, UMBC,” Kiriyama said. “They have [redshirt senior middle blocker Paola] Rojas, one of the better blockers in their conference, and we had a hard time getting around her. She was very dominant along the net. The rest of the team did well. Just not being able to pass just made it easier for them to know who we were gonna set, and they were able to block well … it was tough. It was tough out there tonight.”
BU opened the fourth set neck and neck with the Retrievers. A kill from graduate student middle hitter Lexi LaGoy tied the score at 7-7. The teams continued to battle for some time until three kills and an attack error in favor of UMBC gave the visiting team a three-point advantage. The Retrievers rallied on both ends of the court to close out the set and the match, securing their victory by a comfortable five-point margin.
“Every match is gonna be important,” Kiriyama said. “We’ve gotta eke out a couple of wins here if we wanna make the conference tournament. Hopefully, we get a little rest this weekend and come out strong this week and go after Albany with all we got. It was a close match the first time with Albany — it came down to a couple points there going into the fifth game. So we’re confident that we can compete against them and do well.”
With this loss, Binghamton and UMBC split their season series, as BU downed the Retrievers in Baltimore when the teams faced off earlier this season.
The Bearcats will take on the Great Danes this Sunday. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the West Gym in Vestal, New York.