The Winthrop volleyball team opened play at home in the 2007 Wingate Inn Classic on a positive note as the Eagles defeated Mercer 3-0 (30-18, 30-28, 30-18) with a strong offensive effort that produced a team attack percentage of .321.
Troy downed Georgetown (D.C.) in the opening match of the two-day tournament with a 3-1 win.
Winthrop (2-8) jumped out to a quick lead with a dominating win in game one. Except for a late run in the second game by the Bears that knotted that contest at 28-28, Coach Sally Polhamus' squad was never threatened.
The first-year coach cited the offensive play of outside hitters Kellie Sellers and Tara Toepke along with rightside hitter Kelley Taylor. Sellers, a freshman, finished the match with a .421 hitting percentage, while Toepke, one of the team's two seniors, turned in a .400 hitting effort with 10 kills. Taylor, a sophomore, had a .500 attack percentage with eight kills in 16 swings and no errors. Preseason Big South Player of the Year candidate Shannon Sitzmann led all players in the match with 13 kills. Defensively, Winthrop was led by junior libero Pohai Nu'uhiwa, who collected 20 digs to lead all players.
"It was great to be playing in front of our home fans and getting our first win on the new playing floor. The fans were just great and we hope we can continue to build our support as the season progresses," said Polhamus. "Our outsides of Kellie and Tara did a nice job of taking advantage of first-ball kill opportunities.
"Offensively we are still working to improve our serve receive game, but overall we had some strong swings from a quartet of players. Defensively, Pohai was an excellent leader for us."
Tournament play will continue at 10 a.m. today when Winthrop hosts Troy. Georgetown will face Mercer at noon. In the evening session, Mercer will play Troy at 5 p.m. followed by the Winthrop vs. Georgetown match at 7.
Doors open for today's first match at 9 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children (age 16 and under) and senior citizens (age 65 and up). Winthrop faculty/staff and students are admitted free on a valid ID card.
• WOMEN'S SOCCER -- Winthrop women's soccer game with Georgia State was indefinitely suspended due to inclement weather in the17th minute of the first half on Friday.
All statistics gathered in the 17 minutes of play will be discarded because 70 minutes weren't played.
Lady Eagle goalkeeper junior Dimitra Poulos was playing exceptional for Winthrop at the time of stoppage and had recorded two saves, with both terminating open shot opportunities for the Panthers.
The teams won't attempt to replay this game.
The Lady Eagles go back to action next Friday as they travel to Cooksville, Tenn., for a non-conference game against Tennessee Tech at 5 p.m.