CHARLESTON -- The Winthrop volleyball team was just two points away from losing its first Big South Conference match since 2004, but it held on and beat Charleston Southern 25-30, 30-15, 30-27, 24-30, 16-14 extending its league winning streak to 59 matches Friday evening in Charleston.
With the match tied at 14 points apiece in the fifth game, Preseason Big South Player of the Year, junior middle hitter Shannon Sitzmann, came up with two big plays to keep the Eagles invincible as she collected a kill and a block assist to end the contest.
With the win, Winthrop improves to 10-9 on the year and 5-0 in conference play, while Charleston Southern drops to 8-12 overall and 1-4 in Big South action with the loss.
"We're still working on finishing a game, pushing though a critical point and controlling the tempo on our side of the net," said Winthrop coach Sally Polhamus "It was a good win. CSU played a great game and we're happy to get a win on their floor."
Sitzmann led the Eagle offense with 21 kills hitting .302. Freshman setter Kelsey Hall also played a big role for the Winthrop attack as she collected eight kills and a career-high .727 hitting percentage, while posting 47 assists.
Senior outside hitter Tara Toepke fired 12 service aces to set a new school record for aces in a five-game match. Toepke was only two aces shy of tying the NCAA Division I record of 14 aces.
"Tara has been working hard on her consistency and went back to the service line and did a great job on pushing us thought the match," said Polhamus.
As a team, Winthrop gathered a .231 hitting average as opposed to a .205 mark from the Buccaneers. The Eagles also got 14 team blocks, while Charleston Southern recorded 10. Freshman middle hitter Sara Felts led all blockers with six block assists and one solo.
The Eagles stay on the road as they visit conference rival Coastal Carolina at 2 p.m. on Saturday.