Binghamton Sweeps Top-Seeded Albany to Win Third America East Volleyball Title
ALBANY, N.Y. - The Binghamton Bearcats had to battle from large deficits in the second and third sets to sweep top-seeded Albany and win their third America East Conference volleyball title on Saturday at University Gym in Albany, N.Y.
The Bearcats beat the Great Danes by scores of 25-17, 28-26 and 26-24, claiming their second conference championship in four years. Binghamton also defeated Albany in 2009 in four sets at University Gym.
Binghamton was led by the championship's Most Outstanding Player, Grace Vickers, who had 10 kills and 3.5 blocks in the title match. That was coupled with 17 kills and a .389 hitting percentage in the semifinal match against UMBC.
Vickers was joined on the All-Championship Team by Iva Partaleva, who had a match-high 19 kills, and Amanda Dettmann, who totaled 37 assists, nine digs and six block assists in the final.
Albany had two players named to the All-Championship team in Traci Vandegrift and Gabby Whitworth.
Binghamton won the title with its defense, totaling 12 blocks and 76 digs in the contest to hold Albany to a .119 hitting percentage. Xiomara Ortiz had a match-high 32 digs, while Partaleva coupled her 19 kills with 13 digs to record a double-double.
The Bearcats led the first set from start to finish, opening the match by winning nine of the first 12 points. Binghamton totaled six blocks and 19 digs in the first frame to hold Albany to a .000 hitting percentage. Vickers had four kills and four block assists, while Dettmann had 10 assists and 1.5 blocks.
Albany jumped out to a big lead in the second set, growing the lead to as much as 18-7 thanks to four kills each from Tatum Jungsten and Dunja Prgoment.
The Bearcats battled back, knotting the set up at 22 with a 15-4 run. After the teams traded points, Binghamton earned a chance a set point following a block from Megan Burgess and Alex Roland.
A blocking error by the Bearcats, followed by an attack error by Partaleva gave the Great Danes set point with the score 25-24, but Binghamton's Kristin Hovie picked a great time for her first kill of the match to tie the set once again.
With the set even at 26, Partaleva and Vickers went for back-to-back kills to give the Bearcats a 28-26 win in the second set and go up two sets to none heading into the break.
The third set was more of the same story, as Albany grabbed a 16-9 lead following a 6-1 run. The Bearcats slowly clawed back into the set, outscoring the Great Danes 11-3 to come within one at 20-19.
Albany's Samantha Brostrom tried to keep the Great Danes alive in the match, coming alive for back-to-back kills, to put Albany up 22-19. Brostrom finished with four kills in the third set.
A kill by Roland and back-to-back errors by Albany brought the set even at 22. With Binghamton earning a championship point at 24-23, Albany's Sara Pope, the America East Player of the Year, had a big kill to help the Great Danes stave off elimination.
The Bearcats closed out the 2012 title on an attack error by Albany and yet another kill by Partaleva. It was the second win for Binghamton over Albany in a title match, the last also coming at University Gym in 2009.
The Bearcats earn the conference's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Championship, and will learn their matchup during the 2012 NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, November 25 at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Sherelle Walker, UMBC
Abby Brinkman, New Hampshire
Traci Vandegrift, Albany
Gabby Whitworth, Albany
Iva Partaleva, Binghamton
Amanda Dettmann, Binghamton
Grace Vickers, Binghamton
Most Outstanding Player
Grace Vickers, Binghamton