CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern was unable to recapture last night's magic as the Buccaneers fell in straight sets to Winthrop on Saturday afternoon, 25-19, 25-16, 26-24.
After bringing the match all the way back from being down 2-0 last night to Presbyterian, the CSU volleyball team sparked the crowd in the third set, rallying from being down 21-17 in running off six consecutive points on Laura Grace Swindler's serve to take a 23-21 lead in threatening to put the match to a fourth set. However, Jackie Landers placed in her final four kills of the night to rally the Eagles back as Winthrop was able to close out the three set sweep in taking both matches of the season series against the Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern falls to 6-21, 0-11 in Big South play on the season with the loss, while Winthrop improves to 13-11, 4-6 in conference action on the year with the win.
Erin LaVenice again paced the Buccaneers offense in the match, leading the way with nine kills, while Meredith Parrott and Siraya Windsor had six kills apiece as CSU hit .045 from the floor as a team in the match. Kirsten Struksnes and Cassidy Greer had 10 assists apiece in setting up the Bucs offense, while Struksnes added three service aces. Defensively, Taylor Allman led CSu with six digs, while LaVenice had four blocks at the net.
Landers led all players with 21 kills on the night and completed the double-double with 10 digs as Winthrop hit .311 as a team from the floor in the match. Irene Ojukwu also completed the double-double with 12 kills and 14 digs, while Rachel Lenz was also in double-digits with 12 kills to pace the Eagles' offense on the afternoon. Jessie Vicic set up the attack with 48 assists, while Brianna Gray was the defensive team leader with four total blocks.
Winthrop jumped ahead early in the first set, taking eight of the first 11 points in building an 8-3 advantage. The Buccaneers rallied back, cutting the deficit all the way down to one point at 14-13 on a service ace by Windsor as CSU threatened to tie the match on three separate occasions. However, with Winthrop holding the 16-15 lead, following a kill by LaVenice, the Eagles rattled off four straight points in building a 20-15 advantage and cruised to the 25-19 set win.
The second match saw Winthrop take a commanding 17-7 lead behind a 10-4 run and the Eagles held off the Buccaneers in going up 2-0 with the 25-16 victory. Ojukwu and Landers combined for 13 kills in the set to lead the WU offense, while LaVenice had three kills and a pair of blocks for the Bucs.
Coming out of the break, the Eagles took the first three points of the third set in building a 9-3 advantage in the frame following a CSU attack error. The Buccaneers rallied to come all the way back, tying the set up at 14-14 following a 6-1 run sparked by a pair of Windsor kills, before getting a pair of Struksnes aces to even the match.
Winthrop was able to retain the lead, going back up 21-17 behind a rare triple block by Ojukwu, Gray and Alina Sopizhuk to stretch their advantage back out. Facing the four point deficit, LaVenice sparked the final CSU run with a solo block and put away a kill as CSU used a 6-0 run to build a 23-21 lead. The Eagles responded with three straight points to put it at match point, but a Winthrop service error put the match at 24-24.
Needing two points to win, WU again went to Landers for the final two points, getting back-to-back kills to finish the afternoon in closing out the 26-24 win.
Charleston Southern is back in action next Friday evening for their final home match of the 2013 season. The Buccaneers welcome Coastal Carolina for a Big South matchup and CSU will recognize the 2013 volleyball seniors, Maggie Murphy, LaVenice, Kayla Klinger and Swindler prior to the match. First serve between the Bucs and the Chanticleers is set for 6 p.m.