Tamar Ashdot Bari/Contributing Photographer The BU Zoo hosted a meet and greet ice cream social event with the volleyball team on Monday night.

Friday night, the Binghamton volleyball team took the court at the West Gym to face Hartford for its first home match of the 2014 season. In previous years, the volleyball team has drawn crowds on the smaller side — but Friday was different. Thanks to the BU Zoo, Binghamton University’s student cheering section, the West Gym was packed and filled with positive energy throughout the evening.

Though the Bearcats would lose Friday’s match against Hartford, the BU Zoo would win the night, attributing to an attendance of 336.

“Coming into this year we keep saying that the hype is real,” said Ben Sachs, BU Zoo co-president and a junior majoring in accounting. “People are just talking about the Zoo. They know that school spirit exists. Because we have so much hype from last year, we are starting to build that into new traditions.”

On Monday night, the volleyball team and some of its biggest supporters met for the first time at a meet and greet ice cream social, at which the team discussed the positive impacts the Zoo has had on the program.

“It’s cool when you go to your home [court] and all these people support you,” senior captain and defensive specialist Alexa Zbytniewski said. ”When you go to other places they don’t have that. It’s awesome to be able to show off your school spirit. It has meant a lot. It was great to be welcome backed like that.”

Hosting the event alongside Sachs was BU Zoo co-president Andrew Loso, a senior double-majoring in history and Spanish. With Monday’s event being the third meet and greet event held by the group this semester, Loso is already noticing the effects on both the student body and the student-athletes.

“You’ll get people who come to basketball games, you’ll get people who come to soccer games, [but] you’re not necessarily going to know the athletes,” Loso said. “But for these sports that don’t typically get a big spectator crowd, it’s great to get the team out. This basically is a great way to show that we’re trying to make a connection to more and more sports [programs] as we build ourselves.”

With most of the volleyball team in attendance, the event was well received by the players, who have already seen the club’s impact at the matches.

“These past two games were amazing. I was so surprised by how many people came out — especially from the BU Zoo,” sophomore outside hitter Kelly Leach said. “It’s such a nice atmosphere, especially from last year.”

For the future of the BU Zoo, Loso seemed hopeful for the expansion of the club and its contribution to the University going forward.

“I would love to come back in 10 years and see a meet and greet with every team once a year or once a semester,” Loso said. “We have 21 Division I sports teams, but [it’s important] to make that connection to all these athletes to say and to let the students know that they’re working hard representing our University at a high level and you can come out and you can watch them.”

For sophomore libero Bailey Walker, her hopes for what the BU Zoo can contribute to her team rang more immediate:

“More fans!”