THRILLER – Bulldogs Rally To Defeat Winthrop 3-2
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – In a contest that featured 32 tie scores and 19 lead changes the UNC Asheville volleyball team rallied late to earn a 3-2 victory over the visiting Eagles of Winthrop to improve to 17-10 overall and 9-4 in the Big South Conference in front of a raucous crowd at the Justice Center on Friday evening.
Courtesy: UNC Asheville
“This place just kept getting louder and louder as the match went on, to the point where I couldn’t hear anything anybody was saying,” said Asheville head coach Julie Torbett. “When we were down late in the fourth set I told our team that this was our house and we don’t let this happen here. Our players responded and we were able to pick up a big conference victory.”
The Blue & White took the first set 25-22 on the strength of six kills by Kelsey Benorden. The Eagle then took the next two sets 25-22 and 25-22 to take a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. Winthrop held a 22-19 lead late in the fourth set before the Bulldogs went on a 6-1 run to tie the match 2-2.
The fifth set was just as competitive as the rest of the match with the two teams going through seven tie scores and three lead changes. Asheville and Winthrop traded points back and forth with neither team ever able to achieve more than a two-point lead. With set point at 14-13 Kelsey Benorden recorded the game winner off of the set of Rachel Guinane, as the Bulldogs won the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
The Eagles were led on offense by Becca Toor, who posted a match-high 22 kills. Kellie Sellers and Kaley Viola posted 12 and 10 kills, respectively, as Winthrop falls to 11-15 on the season with an 8-6 mark in league play.
Asheville got a team-high 19 kills from the senior outside hitter Benorden who hit an impressive .357 average for the match. Fellow Bulldogs Cindi Miller (12) and Holly Shelton (10) each tallied double digit kills with libero Alex Stewart leading the match in digs with 26.
Hallie Morse (25) and Guinane (22) combined for 47 assists while splitting time at setter, with Miller digging 23 attack attempts and Benorden digging 18 on defense.
Toor was also very effective defensively as well, recording seven blocks on the night (three solo). The entire front row of Winthrop was impressive as the Eagles combined for 15.0 total blocks (eight solo). Setter Kelsey Hall recorded 45 assists for Winthrop while libero Kelsey Harrison led the Eagles in digs with 25.
Asheville will be back in action tomorrow afternoon when the Bulldogs welcome Charleston Southern to the Justice Center. It will be the final home appearance for seniors Benorden, Guinane and Jenna Dover with a pre-match ceremony planned to honor all three. The match is slated to start at 2 p.m.