Coming off a 3-0 win against Bryant to extend its winning streak to three games, the Binghamton volleyball team took a break from America East (AE) play, defeating LIU 3-1 on the road in Brooklyn, New York on Tuesday. After falling short in the first set, the Bearcats found their footing on defense and offense, with timely kills from their outside hitters as BU took the match in four sets.
“We knew we had to be able to defend them,” said Binghamton head coach Allie Yaeger. “That was one of the reasons in the first set that we lost, [it] was because we were not able to play defense … then we made our adjustment after set one, and things were much better.”
Binghamton (10-8, 3-0 AE) found itself under attack early from LIU [(4-15, 3-2 Northeast Conference (NEC)] to open the first set, but BU took their first lead with the score at 3-2. The Bearcats controlled the lead early on, backed by two kills from freshman outside hitter Ella Schabort to make it 9-7. Later in the frame, the Sharks capitalized off of a pair of service aces and took an 18-16 advantage over BU. Trailing 21-19, what looked to be a three-point run from the Bearcats was cut short when a hit from graduate student middle blocker Anna Sprys that was originally called a kill was overturned to be an attack error upon further review. BU was unable to retake the lead, dropping the first set 25-22.
“What we talked about going into set two is that we always talk about winning the serve and the serve-receive game, and we did not do that in the first set,” Yaeger said. “They aced us a lot and we let them hit in system [and] we missed a lot of serves too. So between our service errors and them getting aces on us, we really struggled.”
LIU stayed in control early in the second set, going up 7-5. However, the Bearcats bounced back with a four-point run, capped off with a kill by Schabort, giving BU at 9-7 advantage. Not long after, Binghamton took its largest lead of the game so far, leading 14-9, which was supported by two kills and a service ace from freshman middle blocker Misa Dlouha. BU kept its lead the rest of the way to take the set 25-15, tying up the match at one set apiece.
“We made some adjustments defensively in the second set and it really paid off — being able to slow down their outsides a little more,” Yaeger said. “Their middles got going in the first set as well, and they were just in the system too much. So we were able to kind of shut them down and serve a little more aggressively knowing that the ball was going to go to the outside.”
With the match knotted up at one set, both sides traded points to open the third set, but BU soon mounted a 5-0 run to take a 6-2 lead. Binghamton continued to build its lead, going up 23-15 later in the frame, taking control defensively with eight total blocks, compared to LIU’s one. The Sharks, however, began to chip away, getting within two points of the Bearcats at 24-22. However, that was the closest LIU got as a kill from graduate student right side hitter Lydia Adam secured a 25-22 set win for BU.
“Our players did a really good job watching where the ball was going and our pin hitters did a good job shutting the block for us,” Yaeger said.
Looking to close out the contest in the fourth set, BU came out of the gates hot, taking a 9-3 lead. While the Bearcats maintained its lead, the Sharks eventually came within one point of BU with the score at 15-14. However, a kill from senior outside hitter Tsvetelina Ilieva put Binghamton up 18-14, giving BU the final push it needed. The Bearcats went on a 7-4 run to take the set 25-18, securing the 3-1 victory over LIU.
Ilieva captured double-digit kills for her 12th consecutive match, leading the team with 18 kills. Also earning double-digit kills was Schabort with 13 kills. Lastly, Dlouha, who did it on both sides of the ball, tallied 10 kills alongside eight blocks.
“[Ilieva’s] teammates trust her, and she trusts her teammates,” Yaeger said. “She goes up and she swings very hard and she trusts that her defense is going to be behind her if she gets blocked and she can go from there.”
BU will resume AE play on the road against Albany on Sunday, Oct. 15. First serve is set for 6 p.m. at Robison Gym at the Kahl Campus Center in Albany, New York.