Winthrop University

Winthrop volleyball team's tough schedule paying off

Winthrop's volleyball team is reaping the benefits of a tough early season schedule.

The Eagles went 2-0 last weekend and have three matches coming up, two against Big South foes and another versus a tough Charlotte 49ers team.

Freshman Janice Rivera was named Big South Libero of the Week for the second time this season following her performance Friday against Presbyterian and Sunday versus UNC Asheville. Rivera, from Windermere, Fla., finished the two-match weekend with 42 digs in nine sets for an average of 4.67 digs per set. She posted two assists and two service aces on the weekend.

The 5-foot-2-inch Rivera was surprised by the honor.

"One of my teammates (Lauren Huber) texted me 'congratulations libero of the week'; I wasn't expecting it," Rivera said.

Coach Sally Polhamus said Rivera definitely deserved it.

"She plays with great knowledge of the game. She rewards hitters very well; she is explosive with a good touch on the ball," Polhamus said.

The team will know more about the severity of outside hitter Kellie Sellers' injury following today's MRI. The fear is that she has torn the ACL in her left knee.

• BASEBALL: Coach Joe Hudak's Eagles will begin their annual Banana Split series with three games this weekend. The six-game set will put the wraps on the fall baseball schedule. All the games will be played at The Winthrop Ballpark and are free.

Hudak started the traditional series at Winthrop when he started as head coach 17 years ago. The team that loses the series has to buy the winning team banana splits. It is a Mississippi State idea he brought with him from his three-year stint as an assistant coach.

Several former players were at the stadium this week: pitcher Kevin Slowey; outfielder Daniel Carte; pitcher Chris Leroux and catcher Alan Robbins.

Slowey was 12-11 in 27 starts for Minnesota this season. He threw the first two shutouts of his major league career.

"(Slowey) talked about how great the last month of the season was with a genuine chance to make the playoffs," Hudak said.

Carte played for Double-A Tulsa (Rockies) where he hit .273 with 16 homers and drove in 59 runs. Leroux pitched for the Florida Marlins Class A entry Jupiter (Fla.) where he was 6-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 53 relief appearances. Robbins hit .197 in 57 games for the Phillies' Class A Clearwater team.

Carte, Leroux and Robbins have returned to Winthrop this semester to work toward their degrees.

• MEN'S SOCCER: Winthrop fell one spot to eighth in the NSCAA/adidas South Atlantic Region and remained at 47th in TopDrawerSoccer.com's Top 48 this week. The Eagles won their only match last week, 2-0 on the road at conference foe Presbyterian. The Eagles stand 7-3 overall and 2-0 in the league.

Old Dominion bumped the Eagles with a 1-0 victory over UNC Wilmington.

Big South members Radford and Liberty moved into the rankings this week at 9th and 11th, respectively.

Tonight's match against High Point begins a three-game homestand for the Eagles. Midfielder Michael Luk will miss the game. He was kicked in the calf during the Presbyterian game on Sept. 30.

Associate head coach Dan Ridenhour said senior Grant Wise will take the spot vacated by Luk, who transferred in from St. John's this year.

"Wise has started for us. He's a senior. It won't feel like we're missing much," Ridenhour said.

• WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Coach Bud Childers is counting down the days until practice can officially begin a week from Friday. Up to now, they have been allowed to practice two hours a week.

"Just enough to tease you," Childers said.

He starts his fifth year at Winthrop with an experienced team of 10 juniors and seniors. The season starts at 3 p.m. Nov. 15 when the Eagles host Davidson.

Season tickets are on sale now. Call the Winthrop ticket office at 323-2345 or online at winthropeagles.com.

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