Rock Hill, S.C. -
The Gardner-Webb volleyball team battled back from a tough first set 25-15 set
loss to push the Winthrop Lady Eagles to the limit in set two and three, before
falling to the Lady Eagles 3-0 in straight sets (25-15, 25-22, 25-22) in the
Winthrop Coliseum on Saturday afternoon in Rock Hill, S.C.
The loss is the third straight for GWU, who falls to 9-18
overall and 4-8 in the Big South. The
win, which was Winthrop's fifth straight, pushes the Lady Eagles to 18-7
overall and 11-2 in conference play on the year.
Looking to complete the regular season series sweep of the
Winthrop Lady Eagles and snap their losing streak at two, the Runnin' Bulldogs
posted only a .160 attack percentage as team, compared to Winthrop's .264 team attack
percentage, and committed 22 total errors in the three set loss.
The Runnin' Bulldogs got off to a slow start to start the
match, seeing a 2-2 tie quickly erased by a 6-2 run by the Winthrop Lady
Eagles, giving the home team an 8-4 lead and forcing an early GWU timeout.
Gardner-Webb cut the Winthrop lead to two at 11-9 on a Tyler Cockrell kill, however, that would be as close as the Runnin' Bulldogs would
get in the opening set, as Winthrop outscored GWU 14-6 for the remainder of the
game to come away with the 25-15 set win.
The second set started off much like the first, as the two
teams went back-and-forth until back-to-back Gardner-Webb errors allowed the Lady
Eagles to take an early three point lead at 6-3.
The errors only added to the Lady Eagles' momentum, as the
home team outscored the Runnin' Bulldogs 5-3 over the next eight possessions to
pull out to an 11-6 lead and force a GWU timeout.
After Winthrop scored right out of the timeout to push their
lead to six at 12-6, the Runnin' Bulldogs took advantage of four Winthrop
errors and kills from Cockrell, Emily Holte, Lauren Evans and Laura Wilcox to
cut the Winthrop lead to one at 15-14.
Winthrop was able to hold on to a slight lead over
Gardner-Webb, as the two teams then traded points back-and-forth over the next nine
rallies to put the score at 20-18 in favor of the Lady Eagles.
Two straight errors by Gardner-Webb pushed Winthrop in front
by four at 22-18, forcing head coach Leo Sayles to call his second timeout of
Out of the timeout, the Runnin' Bulldogs responded with four
straight points, highlighted by kills from Holte, Heather Feldman and Erin Anderson,
to knot the score up at 22-22.
However, another GWU error stopped the run and allowed
Winthrop to score the final three points of the frame to escape with the 25-22
set win and a 2-0 match lead.
GWU's Evans got the Runnin' Bulldogs off to a solid start in
set three, posting two kills over the first three points to give the visitors
an early 2-1 lead. However, a 6-2 run by
the Lady Eagles, which included three Gardner-Webb errors, push Winthrop back
in front by two at 7-5.
Down two points at 8-6, GWU was able to post back-to-back
points by way of an Evans' kill and an Evan Moffitt service ace, tying the set
up at 8-8.
Refusing to go away, Gardner-Webb stayed close to the Lady
Eagles, cutting the lead to one at 11-10 and then overcoming a 3-0 run by Winthrop
to battle back with a 5-0 run of their own, highlighted by kills from both
Holte and Wilcox, to take a 17-15 lead and force Winthrop to call their first
timeout of the set.
At home, Winthrop would not go away, as out of the timeout
the Lady Eagles outscored Gardner-Webb 5-1 to retake the lead at 20-18 and
force the Runnin' Bulldogs to call a timeout.
GWU ran off three straight points down the stretch to tie
the score up at 22-22 on a Feldman service ace, however, just like in set two,
the Lady Eagles finished the set out with three straight unanswered points to
take their second straight 25-22 set win and the 3-0 match victory.
Evans posted a team-high 10 kills and 13 digs, while Feldman
dished out 27 assists and tallied 12 digs in the three set loss.
Winthrop's Becca Toor totaled a match-high 12 kills on a
.667 attack percentage, while setter Stephanie Palmer recorded 31 assists and
Gardner-Webb (9-18, 4-8 Big South) will return home to host
the Liberty Lady Flames and the Radford Highlanders next weekend, as the Runnin'
Bulldogs will wrap up their 2011 regular season slate at home in Paul Porter
Arena. GWU will host Liberty on Friday
night at 7 p.m. and will then turn around to take on the Highlanders at 5 p.m.
on Saturday afternoon.
Winthrop (18-7, 11-2 Big South) will play their final match
of the regular season next Friday night, as the Lady Eagles will host Presbyterian
College at 7 p.m. in Rock Hill, S.C.