In its final invitational tournament before America East (AE) play begins, the Binghamton volleyball team went 0-3 over the weekend at the UConn Dog Pound Challenge. The Bearcats lost two five-set matches Saturday against Brown and UConn, respectively, along with suffering a 3-1 defeat Sunday afternoon to Michigan State.

“We knew this weekend was going to be challenging,” said Binghamton head Coach Allie Yaeger. “It was disappointing being up two games to one both against Brown and against UConn and not being able to finish. We’re having a hard time starting and a hard time finishing and the in-between is looking good, so we’re coming together.”

On Saturday afternoon, Binghamton (6-7) took on Brown (9-1) for its first matchup of the tournament. Both teams came out of the gates strong, exchanging points to start the match. Eventually, the Bears were able to pull away and take the first set 25-20. However, BU bounced back, taking the second set 25-19 to tie the match up at one set a piece. The Bearcats’ momentum trickled into the next set as they earned a 25-22 win in set three. Then, after falling behind early, Binghamton dropped the fourth set 25-18, as Brown forced a fifth and final set. The fifth set came down to the wire for BU as Brown managed to pull away late and squeeze out the victory 15-12.

“We have a tendency to run out of gas,” Yaeger said. “With Brown, it’s tough because they’re a really old team … and we’re really, really young. We’re not very deep right now, so what’s out on the floor needs to finish.”

BU matched up against the tournament host, UConn (5-7), on Saturday evening, where the Bearcats suffered another five-set loss. After Binghamton won the first set in overtime 28-26, UConn responded by taking the second set 25-23. The back-and-forth nature of the match continued as the Bearcats won the third set and the Huskies took the fourth set. However, Binghamton was unable to squeeze out the win, dropping the fifth set along with the match overall. Despite the loss, freshman libero Brenda Reynaga posted a career-high 28 digs for BU.

“I thought [Reynaga] played outstanding,” Yaeger said. “She had 28 digs as a freshman, getting thrown into a pretty big match with a Big East school … it was a fun match. It’s competitive.”

For its final match of the tournament, the Bearcats took on Michigan State (8-3). Binghamton got off to a slow start, dropping the first set 25-12 to the Spartans, but bounced back in the second, winning 25-23. However, that would be the Bearcats’ only set victory. The squad dropped the third and fourth sets, along with the match, finishing the weekend 0-3. Senior outside hitter Tsvetelina Ilieva and freshman outside hitter Ella Schabort combined for 23 kills in the losing effort.

“When you play big time teams like [Michigan State], their physicality is very intimidating,” Yaeger said. “I think the initial shock of what we see is always hard in that first set to just get used to it, and once we start to hang, and once we start to score points … that’s when it kicks in and then that’s why our second set was better than our first.”

With just one more game remaining before AE play begins, Yaeger mentioned that despite the disappointing weekend, she is confident in the team’s ability to continue to improve and compete at a high level during conference play.

“We still have work to do,” Yaeger said. “I feel like we’re just a little behind in putting out [on the court] what we actually want to put out, but for right now, we’re fine … win [or] lose, whatever we do, as long as we’re learning something in the process to help us move forward and be ready for conference, that’s all that matters.”

Binghamton will return home to play Colgate on Tuesday, Sept. 26. First serve is scheduled for 6:07 p.m. at West Gym in Vestal, New York.