LYNCHBURG, Va. -- The Winthrop volleyball team lost its first Big South Conference match in four years as Liberty picked up a 33-31, 30-21, 30-21 decision Saturday evening in Lynchburg, Va.
Winthrop had a game point at 31-30 to win the first frame, but wasn't able to capitalize. After that, the Flames took over and controlled the match until the end.
"Liberty just did a great job overall. They did a great job on serve-receive and on their systems overall. Their offense did a great job and so did the defense. They really played a great game and really attacked us from all sides," Winthrop coach Sally Polhamus said. "We need to step up as a team and we need to find some go-to players. We know the challenges we have ahead and we're ready to step up for each opportunity to become better."
Winthrop now holds a 14-10 overall record and is 8-1 in the Big South, while Liberty, who tied the conference record for consecutive sweeps with 10, is 20-7 on the year and 9-1 in league action.
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Junior middle hitter Shannon Sitzmann had 14 kills to lead Winthrop's front row. Right-side hitter sophomore Kelley Taylor was the other Eagle player in double figures with her 12 kills.
Junior libero Pohai Nu'uhiwa collected 23 digs to anchor the back row. Senior Tara Toepke and freshman Kellie Sellers, both outside hitters, added 11 digs each.
Despite seeing her team drop the nation's longest current conference winning streak, Polhamus had nice words to say about her players and what they have accomplished.
"Winthrop should be very proud about the history and tradition of success they built. It takes a lot of mental and physical toughness to create a winning streak like they have. It is a great feat for any team to have multiple seasons undefeated in the conference."
Winthrop returns to the volleyball court on Friday as it plays host to Coastal Carolina at 7 p.m.