Bearcats fall in heartbreaking fashion to UMBC in conference opener

Box Score

BALTIMORE, Md.--Despite leading the match 2-1 and holding a 26-20 lead in the fourth game, Binghamton (9-7, 0-1 AE) was unable to knock off the host Retrievers (12-7, 1-0 AE), falling 3-2 at the RAC Arena in the conference opener for both teams on Tuesday night. UMBC won the match 30-26, 28-30, 28-30, 32-30, 15-13. The match marked the America East volleyball debut for UMBC, which had competed in the Northeast Conference until this season.

"It was a close match that could have gone either way," BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. "We played hard throughout the match but made some errors late in the fourth game and let them back into the match. For a period of time we just weren't able to convert our attacks."

After the Retrievers knotted the match at 2-2, they jumped out to a lead in the fifth game, forcing Binghamton to play from behind for most of the game. The Bearcats rallied to tie the score at 12-12, but after trading points on another series, UMBC scored the final two points of the match to secure the win.

Junior outside hitter Michele Heck (Chicago, Ill./Resurrection) paced the Bearcats with a career-high 24 kills, 14 digs and five service aces. It was the first time this season and third time in her career she had at least 20 kills in a match. Heck also recorded her fifth straight double-double and 23rd of her career.

"Michele was very effective from the outside tonight," Kiriyama said.

Junior outside hitter Morgan Jimerson (Grandview, N.Y./Nyack) contributed a season-high 15 kills and freshman middle hitter Megan Hoag (Brunswick, Ohio/Padua Franciscan) continued her strong play of late with 13 kills, eight digs, three aces and three blocks. Junior middle blocker Anne Crocus (Bethlehem, Pa./Freedom) added eight kills and eight blocks.

UMBC joins the America East after running up an astonishing 40-4 record in Northeast Conference matches over the past five years. In that time, the Retrievers held at least a share of the regular season conference title three times and advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a 23-5 record in 1998.

The Bearcats will head home for a pair of conference matches over the weekend. Binghamton will host state rival Stony Brook on Friday at 7 p.m. in East Gymnasium, then cross the street on Saturday for a 4 p.m. contest with Hartford.

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