Albany, N.Y.-- The Binghamton Bearcats defeated the Albany Great Danes, 3-1, Saturday afternoon at University Gymnasium to capture the 2009 America East Volleyball Championship. The Bearcats unseated the three-time defending champions to win the program's second-ever America East crown. Head Coach Glenn Kiriyama and his squad will learn their NCAA Championship fate in the live selection show at 3 p.m. Sunday, November 29 on ESPN News.
Binghamton finished with set scores of 25-19, 27-25, 12-25 and 25-19, and moved to 15-15 overall on the season on its way to the program's first championship since 2005. Albany fell to 21-9 for the 2009 season.
All-Championship Team selections Anna Lejina and Michelle McDonough led Binghamton with 22 and 21 kills, respectively. The Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, junior setter Lindsey Mueller tallied 45 assists, 10 digs and three blocks for the match. McDonough also finished with a double-double, adding 10 kills to her performance.
The Bearcats started off strong, hitting .424 with 17 kills in the first set, led by both Lejina and McDonough's seven and six kills, respectively. Albany, which hit just .147 in the first stanza, tried to rally back from a 24-15 score and scored four points on two Hillary White kills and two of Teresa Coppiellie's six aces on the day, but ultimately, a Coppiellie service error clinched the first set for the Bearcats.
Coppiellie and the Great Danes started the second set with the momentum they started to build at the end of the first. With Coppiellie serving, Albany went up 6-1, and then 7-2 on a Brooke Stanley kill. The Bearcats crawled back into it though, tying it at 14-all and then taking a 15-14 lead on a pair of Albany attack errors which forced the Great Danes to take a timeout. The set remained close, but Albany had the chance to take game two with two set points, but attack errors plagued the Great Danes. Three straight miscues by the Great Danes gave the Bearcats a 25-24 lead. Albany senior Valerie Sourbeer tied it at 25 with a kill from Stanley, but kills from Binghamton's dynamic duo of McDonough and Lejina closed out the second set, 27-25.
Trailing 2-0, Albany fought back to dominate the third game and force a fourth set. Sourbeer recorded five kills in the third set, while the Great Danes hit a match-high .429 to Binghamton's .062. The Great Danes also outblocked the Bearcats, 3.0-1.0 for the set.
The fourth set also started 6-2 in Albany's favor, but Binghamton showed their resilience and fought back, eventually tying the set at 9-9 on a Mueller ace. The Bearcats went on a 5-1 run to lead, 14-10, before the Great Danes rattled off five straight points of their own to retake the lead at 15-14. McDonough equaled the score at 15-15 with another kill. Both teams went back and forth until the Bearcats took the lead for good at 19-18. After two straight Lejina kills and an Albany attack error, Binghamton increased its lead to 21-18. Coppiellie tried to get Albany back into it with one more kill before three straight errors by the Great Danes sent Binghamton into celebration.
Coppiellie finished with a team-high 14 kills for the Great Danes, along with 15 digs and six service aces. Her and Stanley, who finished with 41 assists and 12 digs, were named to the All-Tournament team from Albany. White also finished with double-digit kills, hitting 13 at a .360 efficiency. Sophomore Laurie Gonzalez recorded a match-high 22 digs.
UMBC's Alyssa Lang and New Hampshire's Kate Uitti were also tabbed All-Tournament Team selections for their semifinal performances.