College Sports

Winthrop volleyball team eliminated from Big South tourney

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Kelsey Benorden and Cindi Miller combined for 30 kills as fourth-seeded UNC Asheville downed fifth-seeded Winthrop 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the Big South Conference volleyball tournament Friday.

The Bulldogs lost the first game, 21-25 but stormed back to win the match 25-17, 25-14, 25-21.

"We came out and played our match in the first set," said Winthrop coach Sally Polhamus. "However, when Asheville countered we had no answers."

The Bulldogs (17-13) advanced to the semifinals for the fourth straight year and sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Eagles bow out in the quarterfinals for the first time in 10 years. The last time was in the 1998 tournament when Winthrop lost to UNC Asheville in four sets.

Asheville had 16 blocks in the match, compared to eight for Winthrop.

Benorden, a first team all-conference selection, had 16 kills and four blocks. Miller, an all-freshman pick, had 14 kills.

Winthrop (11-19) was led by senior Shannon Sitzmann with 16 kills and 13 digs. Kaley Viola and Sara Felts added 10 kills each. Janice Rivera had 24 digs.

The first set had both sides exchanging the lead before a kill from Miller tied the set at 18-18. The Eagles took charge at that point as they got three kills from Kelley Taylor to win the first set 25-21.

The match began to change in the middle of the second set. Asheville led 15-14 but went on a 10-3 run end the set and tie the match at 1-1. The Bulldogs blocking game was effective as the Eagles made eight attack errors in the second set.

The third set had Asheville keeping up the momentum. The Bulldogs scored the first four points of the set and quickly sprinted from there to race to a 17-9 lead.

The fourth set was close early before Asheville went on a 9-3 run to grab an 18-11 lead. The Eagles made six hitting errors in the run. Winthrop rallied behind Sitzmann and crept to 22-20. But Asheville picked up a kill and another attack error from the Eagles got the Bulldogs to match point at 24-20. Leading 24-21, Asheville was able to get the final point and earn the victory.

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