After the Binghamton volleyball team won the first two sets against Albany, taking a commandeering 2-0 lead in the match, the Great Danes took over, staging a comeback and sucking the momentum out of the West Gym. The Bearcats (4-17, 2-6 America East) relinquished their lead and fell 3-2 to the Great Danes (13-8, 7-1 AE).
It was a difficult ending for Binghamton in a game that began with much promise. Strong performances at the beginning of later sets plagued the Bearcats’ chances to hold on for a win.
The teams exchanged points throughout a hotly contested first set. With the score tied at 24, Binghamton recorded two kills and won the game 26-24. The Bearcats came out firing in the second frame, jumping out to a 9-4 advantage, and holding on for a 25-20 victory. The Great Danes fought back to make the score 22-20, but a 3-0 finish gave BU the victory in the frame, and a 2-0 lead in the match.
“We hit well the first two sets,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “I thought they blocked a little bit better against us. And when our hitters had a tougher time just putting the ball away when we needed to.”
At this point, things started to go downhill for the Bearcats. In the third frame, Albany jumped out to a 7-1 lead, and did not relinquish the lead for the duration of the set, winning 25-18.
The fourth set was more of the same, with Albany starting the game by taking a 7-2 edge. But the Bearcats fought back, taking their first advantage since the second set at 21-20. Albany closed out the frame with a 5-1 run to tie the game at two, sending it to a decisive fifth set.
“We made it close,” Kiriyama said. “And I wish we could’ve just played a little bit better there.”
With the momentum swept away from the Bearcats, Albany dominated the final set. A 7-1 start ended with a 15-8 win, and Binghamton suffered a deflating 3-2 defeat that saw the team blow a 2-0 advantage in the match.
“We got stuck in a couple of rotations,” Kiriyama said. “And it’s tough to fall behind to a good team like that and try to make it up.”
This marks the second time this season that Binghamton has been defeated by Albany. On Sept. 28, the Great Danes beat the Bearcats 3-1 in Albany.
“[Albany is] a solid team, all around,” Kiriyama said. “Not a lot of weaknesses. They’re very consistent in what they do. So it’s tough to get behind them at any time during the game.”
During the Bearcats’ early run of success, Kiriyama was pleased with the performance of senior outside hitter Erin Shultz.
“[Shultz] started off well, the first two games,” Kiriyama said. “She had a really phenomenal first game there, and just hit aggressive. Wish we could’ve kept it up a little more.”
Shultz finished the match with 16 kills and nine digs. Senior outside hitter Gaby Alicea led the way with 22 kills and 16 digs, and freshman setter Kiara Adams recorded 43 assists.
The match was notable for the Binghamton volleyball program, as it marked its first ever match broadcasted on ESPN+, ESPN’s online streaming platform.
“We’re fortunate and glad to have that happen with our team,” Kiriyama said. “I think it just brings a little bit more excitement to the match, and gets our girls up a little bit more, so it’s nice.”
As the Bearcats enter the home stretch of their season, they embark on a challenging road trip for two pivotal conference matchups.
Before playing against UMass Lowell, the team will face off against New Hampshire. First serve against the Wildcats is set for Friday, Nov. 2 from the Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, New Hampshire at 7 p.m.