Coming off a 3-1 win over LIU, the Binghamton volleyball team swept Albany 3-0 on Sunday night, extending its winning streak to five games to remain undefeated in America East (AE) play. Despite all three sets coming down to the wire, with the Great Danes keeping pace, the Bearcats came out on top and earned their third sweep of AE play.
“We struggled a little bit on serve receive but a win’s a win and a sweep is a sweep,” said Binghamton head coach Allie Yaeger. “We served really well, we had 10 service aces and so I thought that really helped contribute [to] putting [Albany] out of system.”
The match began with both Binghamton (11-8, 4-0 AE) and Albany (6-12, 1-3 AE) exchanging points, as the score tied at four early in the set. However, BU began to pull away, going on a 10-1 run to take a 14-5 lead. The Bearcats continued to put pressure on the Great Danes, increasing its advantage to 10, with the score at 17-10. Despite a late effort from Albany, which cut the BU lead to just one, Binghamton managed to hold off the Great Danes. A kill from graduate student right side hitter Lydia Adam secured a 25-23 win for BU in set one.
“When we needed to execute, we were able to execute,” Yaeger said. “We were out of system a lot tonight, but it made us better and made us work on our out-of-system hitting.”
BU got off to a quick start in set two, jumping out to an 8-4 lead over Albany. Despite Albany gaining some momentum and keeping pace, evening the score at 10-10, Binghamton took the momentum right back. With the score at 14-12, the Bearcats went on a 5-0 run to go up 19-12. However, with Binghamton leading 23-16, a late 4-0 run by the Great Danes cut the BU lead to three. After a kill by senior outside hitter Tsvetelina Ilieva, Albany went on another 3-0 run, cutting BU’s lead to just one at 24-23. Yet Binghamton held off the Great Danes for just long enough for to get a kill and put away the set 25-23.
“We were much better in serve receive in the second set,” Yaeger said. “When our backs are against the wall — which happens a lot recently this season — I felt confident. When we get in those situations we’ve been there a million times.”
Binghamton exchanged points with the Great Danes in the early moments of the third set. Not long after, a 5-0 run by the Bearcats propelled them to a 7-4 lead. Later in the frame, Albany was able to obtain a 9-8 advantage over BU. The momentum continued to shift between Binghamton and Albany, with the visiting Bearcats slowly pulling away, leading 18-13. BU was able to keep the momentum for the rest of the set, earning a 25-20 victory and securing the 3-0 sweep over the Great Danes.
“Every single time we step foot on the floor, I feel like we are learning and growing as a team,” Yaeger said. “I like being challenged … it only makes us grow better as a team … we are learning definitely with every single match.”
Ilieva spearheaded the Bearcats’ offense with 16 kills. On defense, graduate student middle blocker Anna Sprys tallied nine blocks. Overall, Binghamton recorded a .280 attack percentage, while Albany was held to a .169 attack percentage.
“We out-blocked [Albany] significantly,” Yaeger said. “I thought [Sprys] defensively played awesome for us … our middles did such a great job tonight.”
Binghamton will continue conference play against the reigning 2022 AE champions in UMBC on Thursday, Oct. 19. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena in Baltimore County, Maryland.