The Winthrop volleyball team split two matches Saturday on the final day of the Big Orange Bash, upending South Carolina in a five-set thriller and falling 3-1 to Clemson.
Winthrop improved to 6-1 on the season and had Irene Ojukwu and Jessie Vicic named to the All-Tournament Team.
For the second time in the tournament, Winthrop dropped the first two sets in its match against South Carolina. In the first set the Gamecocks used a 14-4 run to overcome a Winthrop 8-4 lead. South Carolina took the first set 25-21. In the second set Winthrop trailed by only two at 19-17 but the Gamecocks took the final six points to go up 2-0.
South Carolina took the early lead in the third set, but Winthrop was able to turn the tables. The Gamecocks led by as much as seven at 12-5, but the Eagles were able to battle back to tie the set at 15-15. Winthrop grabbed a slim 20-18 lead but quickly the set was again tied at 22-22. Thanks to two attacking errors by the Gamecocks and a kill by Alina Sopizhuk, the Eagles took the final three points.
Winthrop was able to control the majority of the fourth set. After South Carolina led 1-0, the Gamecocks never saw another lead. South Carolina trailed 9-8 before a 10-3 run by the Eagles opened up a big 19-11 lead en route to the 25-22 fourth-set victory, forcing the deciding fifth set.
The Eagles had to come from behind in the fifth set, going to down 7-5 early. Winthrop battled to take a 9-8 followed by two points for the Gamecocks to go up 10-9. The Eagles then took four-straight points to go up 13-10 and took the final set 15-12.
Sophomore Rachel Lenz and senior Irene Ojukwu led the Eagles with 14 kills each while Lenz led the team with a .440 hitting percentage. Sopihzuk and freshman Brianna Gray finished with 12 and 10 kills respectively. Junior Jessie Vicic recorded her second double-double of the day with 49 assists and 14 digs.
In the first match of the day against the Clemson, the Eagles fell behind after the first set. Winthrop led for a large portion of the opening set, but couldnt close it out. The Eagles led 18-15, but an 8-2 run by Clemson gave the Tigers a 23-20 lead as they took the first set 25-21.
Winthrop rallied in the second set, having to come from behind. Clemson grabbed the early lead and led 15-13 before Winthrop went on a big 9-1 run to take a 22-16 lead and was easily able to take the second set 25-19.
The early part of the third set was a back-and-forth battle and Winthrop came away with a slim 12-11 advantage. The Tigers then went on a 7-2 run to go up 18-14. The Eagles were only able to get within as little as two as Clemson took the third set 25-22.
Clemson looked to put the Eagles away early in the fourth set as the Tigers grabbed a 13-9 early lead. Winthrop battled back to tie the set at 15-15, but lost steam after that. The Eagles managed only three more points over the remainder of the set as Clemson won 25-18 and the match 3-1.
The Eagles had players with double-digit kills led by Alina Sopihzuk with 15. Lenz recorded 11 kills while Ojukwu, Gray and freshman Hjordis Eiriksdottir each recorded 10. Vicic picked up a double-double with 50 assists and 13 digs. Lenz also finished with five total blocks.
Winthrop will return to action on the road next weekend in the Pacific Time zone. The Eagles will take part in the Bankers Classic hosted by Pacific University. Winthrop will face San Jose State on Friday followed by Pacific and Cal-Riverside on Saturday.