After sweeping Albany last week, the Binghamton volleyball team fell to UMBC in three sets on Thursday evening — suffering its first loss of America East (AE) play. The first set was as back and forth as it gets and was narrowly won by UMBC in overtime. From there, the Bearcats were unable to keep pace with UMBC over the next two sets, dropping the match 3-0.
“I was very disappointed,” said Binghamton head coach Allie Yaeger. “I was really excited to play that game. I thought it was gonna really show where we stand right now and how we look, and I just don’t think we played to the best of our ability.”
Binghamton (11-9, 4-1 AE) opened up the match with a three-point run to take an early lead but the Retrievers (10-6, 4-1 AE) responded with a run of their own to take a 5-3 lead. From there, the set went back and forth with both sides vying to take the lead. With the score tied 15-15, a kill by freshman outside hitter Ella Schabort spearheaded a 4-0 run to give BU an 18-15 lead — its largest since the outset.
Later in the frame, a pair of kills from sophomore setter Lottie Scully would help carry Binghamton to match point at 24-21, but the Retrievers bounced back to make it a 24-24 game and force overtime. Both squads would then get opportunities to close the set-out. After Binghamton failed to convert another match point opportunity, UMBC would get to match point at 27-26, but a kill from a graduate student right side hitter Lydia Adam held off the Retrievers. UMBC would end up on top, however, securing the next two points to win the set 29-27.
“We had opportunity after opportunity after opportunity,” Yaeger said. “I think we were up 24 to 21, and we just couldn’t finish, we couldn’t put the ball away. It was like finally we’d have a good pass and then we couldn’t put the ball away or we couldn’t pass so then we would have to give an easy ball over to them. So we just couldn’t put three solid contacts together to be able to finish.”
The back-and-forth play would continue going into the second set. Then, a kill from senior outside hitter Tsvetelina Ilieva helped power a run that also featured two service aces from Scully, as the Bearcats jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Despite this, UMBC soon mounted a comeback and both sides continued to grapple for the lead. After the Retrievers tied the score at 16-16, Binghamton was held scoreless for the rest of the set. A nine-point Retriever run powered UMBC to a 25-16 set win that left BU down 2-0.
“We can have [Ilieva], our all-American on the outside and we can have [freshman middle blocker Misa Dlouha] who’s put the ball away in the middle and [Schabort] out there, but if we can’t get them the ball, it’s useless,” Yaeger said. “So it just came down to our passing game and our passing game wasn’t there.”
UMBC kept its momentum going into set three, taking a 4-0 lead early on. This lead would be held by UMBC the rest of the way. While Binghamton would piece together some notable runs, including getting down to three points behind at 16-13, the squad was unable to piece together a run significant enough to take the lead. The Retrievers maintained their lead to earn a 25-20 set win, sweeping Binghamton in three sets.
Despite the loss, Ilieva maintained her double-digit kills streak and tallied a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs in the outing. Schabort would also tally 11 kills in the match. Both outside hitters, however, were held to hitting percentages of .209 and .114, respectively, by UMBC.
“I’m hoping that … we learn something from [UMBC] and see how they play — and we can be better next time, but we control our own fate right now,” Yaeger said. “We’re tied with them for first, and if we can beat them the next time they’re here and we can go undefeated against everybody else again, we would take that first place. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be long, but I know we can do it.”
Binghamton will return home on Friday, Oct. 27 to take on Albany for the second time this season. First serve is set for 6:07 p.m. at West Gym in Vestal, New York.