CHARLESTON, S.C. - Meredith Parrott's service ace quelled a Winthrop rally in the fifth set as Charleston Southern topped the Eagles in Big South action in five sets on Saturday afternoon at the Buccaneer Field House, 25-14, 25-23, 15-25, 18-25, 15-11.
Sydney Tracy led all players with 17 kills in the match, hitting .444 from the floor and added five service aces and seven digs as Charleston Southern (6-11, 1-1 BSC) overcame a Winthrop rally (7-9, 1-1 BSC) to hold on for their first conference victory of the season.
"I thought the difference from last night and today was that we came in and were the aggressors, being very proactive in our attack in the early going," commented head coach Al Givens on CSU's performance against Winthrop. "To Winthrop's credit, they didn't go away and battled back strong, but I'm very proud of our players for staying the course. Kirsten (Struksnes) did a great job of keeping everybody calm on the floor, we didn't panic and we came out with the win."
Winthrop opened up the match, winning four of the first five points in the opening set as Carolyn Weed, Amy Zimmer and Kristin Cruse all recorded kills to stake the Eagles to the 4-1 advantage. Three consecutive kills by Tracy evened the score and a pair of WU attack errors put Charleston Southern in the driver's seat in the set as Charleston Southern went on a 10-1 run, with Tracy adding three service aces to the mix in going as Charleston Southern went up 11-5.
Charleston Southern built a double-digit lead, going up 21-11 on a kill by Kayla Klinger and Wynter Davis closed out the set with a kill and a solo block to give the Lady Bucs the 1-0 lead with the 25-14 set victory.
In the second set, the teams battled back and forth with neither team able to build more than a two-point advantage until Winthrop went up 19-16 following a CSU ball-handling error. Charleston Southern came roaring back on Siraya Windsor's serve, rattling off six consecutive points in taking advantage of a pair of Tracy kills, as well as three WU attack errors to build a 22-19 lead. Winthrop cut the lead down to one at 24-23 following a Jennica Mullins kill and a CSU attack error, but the Lady Bucs recorded the final point of the match when Rachel Lenz's attack went wide to give Charleston Southern the 2-0 lead.
Winthrop came out of the break in the third set, scoring eight of the first 11 and 12 of the first 16 points in the frame in building the 12-4 lead on a CSU service error. The lead reached eight 16-8 on a Charleston Southern ball-handling error and went to double-digits at 24-14 following a block by Mullins and Stephanie Parker as Winthrop closed out the 25-15 set victory on a Lenz kill to send the match into a fourth set.
A 4-0 run gave Winthrop the 12-9 lead into the frame following a Mullins kill and the Eagles continued to build on their lead, scoring six of the next nine points to take a 19-12 lead following another CSU ball-handling error. Charleston Southern rallied back from the deficit, taking game all the way back to within four points at 22-18 as Davis drove home a kill off the assist from Kirsten Struksnes, but a block by Cruse and Mullins sparked a 3-0 run for the Eagles as the teams were sent into the deciding fifth frame of the match.
Windsor put the first point on the board in the frame with a kill, but Mullins answered as the teams battled in the final set of the match. A 3-0 run sparked by a Cruse kill and capped off by a block by Mullins and Weed gave Winthrop the 8-6 lead at the changeover in the set, but Charleston Southern responded with kills by Parrott and Tracy to take the 9-8 lead. Palmer ended the CSU run with a kill as Winthrop went up 11-10 following Zimmer's point, but a service error swung the ball back to Charleston Southern with the score tied at 11-all. A WU attack error pushed CSU ahead and Klinger doubled Charleston Southern's lead to 13-11. Following a bad set, which pushed the Lady Bucs to the brink, Parrott placed in the final point with a service ace down the left line to give Charleston Southern the 3-2 victory.
Struksnes recorded a season-high 53 set assists in the match and completed the double-double with 10 digs as she directed the Charleston Southern offense to hit .283 from the floor in the match. Windsor also picked up a double-double in the game with 12 kills and 11 digs, while Davis continued to have the hot hand on the week, picking up 13 kills while hitting .385 and added four blocks in the match.
Klinger led all players defensive with 17 digs in the match, while Ashley Higginbothem added 12 of her own as CSU recorded as season-high 65 digs over the five sets in the win.
"I feel like there's still another level we can get to with our players, and hopefully this win helps us build confidence heading into our first road trip in conference," said Givens following the match. "Your routine changes a little bit on the road, but I don't think our players are really phased by that as we focus on taking care of ourselves and don't change how we play. I'm happy for our players, we'll enjoy the victory for the rest of the day, and get focused again for Campbell and High Point next weekend."
Charleston Southern remains in Big South Conference play as the Lady Bucs take to the road next weekend, opening their conference weekend at Buies Creek, N.C. on Friday, September 28th, against Campbell University. First serve between the Buccaneers and the Fighting Camels is set for 7 p.m.