UAlbany Volleyball Earns 16 Blocks, 10 Aces in 3-1 Victory at Binghamton to Open America East Play
VESTAL, N.Y. – The UAlbany volleyball team notched 16 total blocks and 10 aces against its in-state rival Binghamton en route to a 3-1 victory (27-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-12) to begin America East play on Friday night.
After defending set point three times to pull out the first set, UAlbany (7-6, 1-0 AE), which was facing a homecoming crowd in Vetsal, dominated Binghamton (6-8, 0-1 AE) in the second and fourth games to win the match.
“Binghamton is always tough at home, they had a great crowd tonight that was definitely a factor in their favor,” said UAlbany head coach MJ Engstrom. “All week we talked about the noise and how pumped up the Bearcats would be. We are getting better at recovering from our mistakes and coming from behind to win.”
As a team, UAlbany is now 8-1 in America East opening matches under Engstrom.
Laini Leindecker notched a double-double, hitting .323 with 14 kills, 12 digs and three aces. Akuabata Okenwa had eight kills and six blocks, including five kills and three blocks in the fourth set alone. Nicole Otero got 15 digs and four aces, Mikala McCauley finished with 34 assists, four kills, seven blocks and eight digs while Amanda Dolan tallied four kills and eight blocks.
“Our aggressive serving really helped us tonight,” said Leindecker. “Coming out and taking control of the fourth set showed a lot about our composure and drive.”
“All three seniors did a great job tonight; Taylor Robinson did a great job in sets one and four off the bench, and Emily Zimmerman gave us some critical strategic serving in set one,” said Engstrom. “It has been a long five weekends on the road, and we look forward to being at home next week.”
For Binghamton, Bianca Anderson hit .375 with eight kills and two blocks. Lauren Kornmann had a team-best 12 kills, adding five digs.
After Binghamton won the opening point, an Okenwa kill sent Leindecker to serve. Leindecker took UAlbany through a 5-0 run, capped by a pair of aces, to take a 5-1 lead. Binghamton countered on long rallies, taking the lead at 8-6. With two Chloe Evering kills, UAlbany went back ahead with four of five for a 10-9 advantage. The teams went back and forth until at 12-12, a 3-0 BU run, ending with a Gaby Alicea kill, made it 15-12 home team. At 16-13, Leindecker notched a back row kill to send Otero to serve. An ace, a Courtney O’Connell kill and another ace sent UAlbany back ahead 17-16. Back and forth the teams went again until at 20-19 UAlbany, a Lauren Kornmann kill sparked a 3-0 BU run for the Bearcats to go up 22-20. Down 24-22, UAlbany defended against set point twice with crushing kills from Leindecker and Evering, then again on an attack out of bounds by Binghamton. On UAlbany’s set point, Otero notched her third ace off the arms of Allison Hovie for the 27-25 set victory.
UAlbany picked up where it left off in set two, surging ahead to a 4-0 lead, including two kills from O’Connell on the outside. BU ended that run, then UAlbany began another off an Okenwa kill, Dolan-O’Connell block and Evering kill for a 7-1 lead. UAlbany continued to earn runs off blocks and a couple of kills from McCauley at setter, pushing ahead 14-5. Otero got another ace on a 3-0 spurt for a 19-7 lead. Dolan added a late block and kill as UAlbany cruised to the 25-14 victory.
The Great Danes earned the first three points of set three, including another block from Okenwa and O’Connell. Binghamton countered with a 3-0 run to tie up the game, later going up 5-4. Binghamton built its lead up, getting two points to UAlbany’s one a couple of times, to go up 12-8, inducing a UAlbany timeout. UAlbany got to within three after a Leindecker kill at 15-12, but BU got the next five points to lead 20-12. Down 22-15, Nina Holmes got UAlbany through a 4-0 run to bring the Great Danes back within three, but BU did not relinquish the lead. Binghamton took set three 25-21 as UAlbany still led in the match 2-1.
After some early exchanges in set four, Gabrielle Hansen buried two aces in a 4-0 run to send UAlbany up 9-4, later 10-5 as McCauley won a joust at the net. Binghamton pulled to within two, then the Great Danes repaired the lead with a Leindecker kill and a Robinson block. At 12-9, two misses by Kornmann was followed by Okenwa going off with three kills and two blocks in a row. Leindecker completed the 8-0 run with an ace for a 20-9 UAlbany lead. Okenwa added two more late kills, as Dolan contributed more with a kill and block, as UAlbany took set four 25-12 to complete the four-set victory over Binghamton.
UAlbany will get ready for its home opener next weekend, hosting UMass Lowell on Friday, September 30th at 7 p.m.