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Volleyball Heads To Boston For First Matches of 2012
Bearcats begin season at Boston College Tournament today at noon
August 23, 2012Tweet
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VESTAL, N.Y. – The Binghamton volleyball team headed out to Boston yesterday afternoon in preparation for its first non-conference tournament of the 2012 season. The Bearcats kickoff their season today at noon against Boston College, who is hosting the two-day, four-match tournament. Binghamton will also matchup with Texas Tech, Fordham and Siena over the weekend.
Since elevating to the Division I level Binghamton has faced ACC member Boston College just once, falling to the Eagles in three sets in 2007. It will be the first time the Bearcat program will take the court with Big 12 member Texas Tech and Atlantic 10 member Fordham. Binghamton has won four of its last five meetings with Siena, holding a 16-6 all-time records against the Saints.
Following their match against Boston College at noon, the Bearcats will complete their day against Texas Tech at 5 p.m. On Saturday, Binghamton will take the court at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., playing Siena and Fordham, respectively.
Redemption is on the minds of the 2012 edition of the Binghamton volleyball program. After qualifying for seven straight postseason berths, the Bearcats failed to make the America East Championship for the first time since 2003. 14th year head coach Glenn Kiriyama’s main focus is getting his unit back to the four-team tournament and having a chance to win an America East title, ultimately earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
An experienced, yet young Binghamton squad returns six starters and nine letterwinners to a team that fell just short of the postseason in 2011. The Bearcats accumulated a 13-17 overall record, going 5-7 in conference play to finish in fifth place. After getting off to a slow start last year (dropped the first five matches), Binghamton won six of their next seven matches including a Rutgers Invitational title. However, the Bearcats struggled through conference play with a very inexperienced team and key players out with injuries.
“I still feel like we’re a fairly young team because a lot of freshmen played significant minutes last season,” head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. “However, I think we have a good mix this year of veterans and new players.”
Remedying the struggles of the 2011 season is on the minds of the entire team, which placed in a tie for fifth in the America East preseason poll. Using the sting from last year’s disappointing finish is all the motivation needed for the team to be well-prepared when the season kicks-off.
“Our hope is that we’ve improved from last year and by having a more experienced team we believe we will be,” Kiriyama stated.
Quarterbacking the offense for the second year in a row will be sophomore Amanda Dettmann. After dishing out over 1,000 assists in her rookie campaign, the dynamic Milwaukee, Wis. native has a year of experience and knowledge under her belt to add to her arsenal. As a freshman, Dettmann played every set for Binghamton and finished fourth in the conference in assists per set (9.43) while tallying 25 service aces to lead the Bearcats. Her defensive prowess can’t go unnoticed, as she recorded 221 digs in 2011, the third highest total on the team.
“It’s great having Amanda (Dettmann) back, she has a year under her belt and were looking for her to improve and connect with the offense,” Kiriyama said. “She has emerged as one of our team leaders and will be a captain this year so we are hoping for a lot more out of her.”
Backing up Dettmann will be fellow sophomore Alexa Zbytniewski. The Northport, N.Y. native played in 13 sets in 2011 and was called on as a service specialist in key situations. Having the pair of sophomore setters gives Kiriyama the luxury of running a fluid practice, an invaluable trait that he hasn’t been afforded with in the past.
Attacking the net from the outside will be a pair of 200-plus kill hitters. In 2011, sophomore Kristin Hovie and senior Iva Partaleva tallied 281 and 213 kills, respectively. Hovie, an America East All-Rookie selection last season, led the Bearcats in kills and ranked ninth in the America East. Partaleva who battled a high ankle sprain throughout the 2011 season only played in 65 sets, but still recorded the fourth highest kill total on the team. Her 3.28 kills per set was a team-best and placed her sixth in the conference.
“We aren’t really deep with hitters overall and a couple of them may have to play multiple positions this year as far as our rotations are concerned,” Kiriyama explained. “It is nice however, to have Iva and Kristin back to kind of show the way for the freshmen.”
Partaleva, the 2011 Rutgers Invitational MVP, has the ability to put up huge numbers finishing with 22 kills in a match twice. Hovie, who recorded double-digit kills in 13 matches, has the same amount of fire power setting a season-high against conference foe UMBC with 24 kills.
“Iva and Kristin have showed up in good shape and performed well during the past couple of weeks,” Kiriyama pointed out. “They’re both looking forward to the season and see how they can contribute to the success of this team.”
Joining the high-powered duo will be freshman Ashley Bowman. The Secaucus, N.J. native was her team’s captain as a senior and earned all-county honors. Fellow classmates Megan Burgess and Shannon Kirkpatrick, who are mainly middles, will see time on the outside as well.
Kiriyama’s deepest unit will be the middle hitters, which is loaded with a talented group of five. Returning is a pair of 200-kill, 70-block middle veterans in senior Alex Roland and junior Grace Vickers as well as sophomore Jordan Snapp. In addition to the vets are highly-touted freshmen Shannon Kirkpatrick and Megan Burgess.
Roland earned America East All-Conference honors for the second time of her career following the 2011 season. The Austin, Texas native accumulated 97 blocks last year, ranking her sixth in the conference and placing her seventh all-time in Binghamton’s Division I history. Her 272 kills was good enough for second on the team and was one of three players in the conference to record over 200 kills and 90 blocks.
“Alex is a senior this year and we’re really looking for her to connect well with Amanda and she’s been working hard,” Kiriyama noted. “We’ll be looking for them to patrol the nets and really improve on blocking this season.”
Vickers, who emerged as a team leader in 2011, had a breakout season during her sophomore year. Her 253 kills was third-best on the team and finished second on the squad with 72 blocks. Her advanced ability in the transition game and expanded offensive range will give Kiriyama a dynamic force in the middle.
“Grace has done a nice job of connecting with Amanda during the preseason and we hope that shows up out on the court,” Kiriyama continued. “She has worked tremendously hard in the offseason and came into camp very fit.”
Snapp, who battled a nagging back injury throughout the 2011 campaign displayed glimpses of her talent, pounding out 13 kills against Stony Brook last season. Kirkpatrick and Burgess will give Kiriyama versatility on the inside with the ability to move the duo to the outside as well. Kirkpatrick, a Rochester, N.Y. native was a three-time All-Monroe County selection and the Section V Division II Player of the Year. Bugress, who hails from St. Petersburg, Fla., helped lead her team to five straight district titles and state final four appearances.
Two-time America East All-Conference selection Xiomara Ortiz will headline the back row for Kiriyama in 2012. Oritz’s 484 digs in 2011 was the second-highest total by a Bearcat in a single season since elevating to the Division I level. Her total ranked third in the conference and she became the first Binghamton player to record 400-plus digs in back-to-back seasons since Jaclyn Strader achieved the feat in 2006 and 2007.
“Xiomara has improved quite a bit from last year,” Kiriyama proclaimed. “She’s been one of the players whose worked awfully hard and has come back in phenomenal shape. She’s very dedicated to her sport and has taken a leadership role on this team.”
Joining Ortiz on the backline will be senior Jordyn Suhr and freshman Alexandra Warner. Suhr, a Webster, N.Y. native, competed on the Bearcat squad for the first time in 2011 after walking on in the spring. She saw action in 15 sets during 2011 and is a vital team leader. Warner is a Midland, Mich. native and was a two-time All-Region honoree. She was named to the Midland and Saginaw News Dream Team for her top-notch ability patrolling the back row.
“Alexandra has done a good job during camp,” Kiriyama said of his first year player. “We’ll be counting on her to step up and help us out in the back row.”
Binghamton begins its quest back to the postseason on Aug. 24 at the Boston College Tournament. The Bearcats open with the hosts and will face Texas Tech, Fordham and Siena during the two-day, four-match tournament. Kiriyama’s team will journey to Maryland, Akron and Tulane for tournaments as well, in preparation for their run at the conference title.
Reversing the team’s fortunes from last season will start with honing their skills during the non-conference schedule and peaking as the conference portion begins. Competing harder against the conference foes is one of Kiriyama’s main goals for 2012.
“Obviously our main focus is the conference season and we want to do a much better job of navigating that segment of our schedule,” Kiriyama said. “We need to be more competitive during conference play, stay steady and improve towards the end of the season while finishing strong. If we’re able to succeed at those tasks everything else should take care of itself.”