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Winthrop Records 3-2, Come-From-Behind Win Over Liberty
Winthrop rallied from a 2-0 deficit, winning the final three sets to down visiting Liberty, 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-10), Saturday at Winthrop Coliseum.
The Eagles (12-11, 3-6 Big South) snapped a three-match losing skid, while Liberty (6-16, 5-4) saw its winning streak halted at three matches. Each of the last three Liberty-Winthrop volleyball matches at Winthrop Coliseum has gone five sets, with Liberty winning the first two.
For the match, Winthrop recorded 73 kills at a .242 pace, and Liberty scored 54 kills at .190. The hosts held a 78-63 advantage in digs, while the Lady Flames led, 12-8, in blocks. Both teams served up six aces.
Liberty senior Lillie Happel registered 16 kills, and is now in 11th place at Liberty with 1,161 career kills. Redshirt sophomore Caroline Douglas sent down 12 kills, while redshirt senior Kendle Rollins totaled eight kills and a match-high seven blocks. Junior Gabrielle Shipe collected a match-high 20 digs, and senior Jade Craycraft had 39 assists and eight kills. Junior Melissa Racz registered six blocks, and senior Becca Haraf (13) and sophomore Allie Reynolds (11) both recorded double-digit dig totals.
Winthrop's Irene Ojukwu recorded a match-high 18 kills to go with 14 digs. Jessie Vicic dished out 62 assists and added 19 digs. Alina Sopizhuk chipped in 17 kills and 11 digs, while Emma Weakland (13) and Rachel Lenz (12) both reached double-digits in kills. Maria Volstad collected a match-high 18 digs.
Set one featured nine ties and four lead changes. The Eagles took a 19-17 lead on Ojukwu's seventh kill of the set. Winthrop maintained a 21-19 advantage, before Craycraft and Rollins combined for a block, sparking a 5-0 Lady Flames rally. Liberty cashed in on its second set-point try, as Douglas sent down a kill to clinch the first set, 25-22.
Liberty attacked a .257 pace during set one, while Winthrop hit .216. The Lady Flames recorded four blocks. Ojukwu led all players with seven kills in the opening frame.
The visitors led in the early going of set two, and a block by Racz made it 18-16. Winthrop won the race to 20, 20-19, on an Ojukwu kill. McQuitery tied it up at 20-all with a kill. A pair of kills from Lenz gave Winthrop a 23-21 edge. Liberty then scored four unanswered points, on kills by Douglas, Craycraft and Rollins, taking a 25-23 set-two win and 2-0 match lead.
The Lady Flames outhit Winthrop, .250-.086, as Liberty added four blocks. Liberty's Happel, Craycraft and Douglas had four kills piece, while Lenz registered four winners.
Winthrop extended the match with a 26-24 third-set victory. Liberty led, 17-16, following a kill from Happel. The Eagles rallied into the lead, 21-19, on a Weakland kill. Liberty then went on a 4-1 run, with a Racz-Rollins block making it 23-22, Lady Flames. Liberty fought off a set-point chance, but kills from Brianna Gray and Weakland sealed Winthrop's win.
The Eagles hit .442 with 23 kills during set three, while Liberty hit .333. Sopizhuk recorded seven kills for Winthrop, followed by teammate Weakland with six kills. Douglas countered with four kills for Liberty.
The hosts won set four, 25-16, sending the match into a deciding fifth set. Winthrop broke away with a 5-0 run, making it 15-9, and pulled away late for the victory. The Eagles registered 17 kills to Liberty's seven, with Sopizhuk recording seven kills for Winthrop and Happel answering with four kills.
The two teams traded three-point runs to start set five, with Winthrop taking a 6-3 advantage. A Douglas kill sliced the deficit to 6-4, but Winthrop pushed its lead to 10-4 with a four-point rally. Despite a late surge by Liberty, the Eagles held off the Lady Flames, 15-10, with Ojukwu sending down the match-clinching kill.
Winthrop hit .148 in set five, while Liberty attacked at a .000 clip. Ojukwu recorded four of the Eagles' seven fifth-set kills.
Liberty returns home, where it will play its next three matches, starting with a 7 p.m. match against Commonwealth rival Radford on Friday at the Vines Center.