Bearcats cap play at Canisius Tournament with pair of victories

St. Francis Box Score
Niagara Box Score

BUFFALO, N.Y.--On the second day of the Canisius Tournament, visiting Binghamton (9-6) won both its matches, defeating St. Francis (Pa.) (3-14) 3-1 and Niagara (4-14) 3-2.

The Bearcats defeated St. Francis 30-19, 26-30, 30-23, 30-23.

"We gave up a lot of balls and didn't play as well as we could have," BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. "We were able to pick it up a bit and come up with kills when we needed to, and that helped secure the win."

Binghamton got off to a fast start, pounding 15 kills with just one error (.636 attack percntage) in the first game, but then made 19 errors over the final three games. Still, the Bearcats hit .285 in the match and benefited from 44 St. Francis errors.

Juniour outside hitter Michele Heck (Chicago, Ill./Resurrection) led three Bearcats in double figures with 15 kills. She also tallied 11 digs in recording her third straight double-double and fourth of the season. Junior middle blocker Anne Crocus (Bethlehem, Pa./Freedom) added 12 kills and a team-best five blocks, while senior middle hitter
Allison Beard (Elkland, Pa.) totalled 12 kills while making just three errors (.429 attack percentage). Freshman setter Ashley Meffert (Louisville, Ky./Fern Creek) added to her conference-leading total with 46 assists.

Against Niagara, the Bearcats rebounded from a 2-1 deficit to take the match 30-28, 32-34, 27-30, 30-21, 15-12.

The match was filled with drama from the beginning. Trailing 26-22 in the first game, Binghamton ran off five straight points to take the lead. After falling behind again, BU put home three straight points to win the game. The Bearcats then saw a 25-19 lead slip away in the second game, and lost a 19-16 lead in the third game when the Purple Eagles scored six straight points to take the lead for good.

Facing elimination in the fourth game, Binghamton pulled away from a 17-17 tie with a 13-4 spurt to end the game. The pivotal fifth game was representative of the entire match, as the Bearcats jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Niagara came roaring back to tie the game at 6-6. However, Binghamton rallied again, scoring three straight points to take a lead it never relinquished, holding off a late Purple Eagle rally with two straight kills to win the match.

Crocus picked up where she left off in the first match of the day, leading Binghamton with a career-high 22 kills to go along with a .588 attack percentage and seven blocks. Heck notched her fourth straight double-double with 17 kills and 12 digs, while Beard pounded 13 kills and Meffert dished out 53 assists.

The Bearcats totalled 70 kills for the match, the most since the team had 75 against Iona on Sept. 30, 2001. Heck moved into sixth place in school history with 810 career kills. She needs 33 more to tie Sara Eckrich for fifth place.

The three matches this weekend marked Binghamton's final tournament prior to beginning conference play this week. The Bearcats will square off in a road contest with America East newcomer UMBC on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before returning home to host Stony Brook on Friday at 7 p.m.

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