ROCK HILL, S.C. – Winthrop's Nikkia Benitez tallied a double-double with 15 kills and 19 digs to lead the Eagles past Furman, 3-1, Thursday at the Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill, S.C.
Senior Gabby Howard hit .370 with a career-high 15 kills to pace the Paladins. Freshman Andrea Aceveda tallied a team-high 21 digs, and sophomore Katie Murphy notched 36 assists. Sophomore Neci Harris matched her career high with six blocks.
In a close set one, the teams were tied at 13-all before Winthrop reeled off five-straight points to lead 18-13. Furman answered by winning six of the next nine points to keep the match in reach at 20-18. The Eagles took a three-point lead at 23-20 but the Paladins put together four consecutive points to steal the advantage, 24-23. Winthrop claimed the next two points to earn set point at 25-24, but a kill by Courtney Hoffman tied the match at 25-apiece. A kill from Benitez coupled with a Paladin error gave the Eagles the first set, 27-25.
Furman jumped out to an 8-5 lead in set three and held at least a two-point margin until Winthrop tied the match at 17-17. The Paladins then connected for consecutive kills by Lydia Morris and Madison Gresham to begin to pull away. Furman won five of the next six points to stretch the lead to 23-19 and capitalized off a kill from Howard and a Winthrop attack error to even the slate with a 25-21 victory in game two.
It was all Winthrop in game three, as the Eagles took an 11-4 advantage and went on to win the set, 25-13. The Paladins regrouped in the fourth set, taking an 8-6 lead, before the Eagles answered with a 6-1 run to seemingly take control, 12-9. Furman came away with five of the next seven points to tie the match at 14 and maintained the tie through 15, before Winthrop scored on six of nine points to hold a 21-17 margin. Again the Paladins rallied, taking four-straight points off two kills from Howard, coupled with kills from Gresham and Natalie Dunn, to tie the set at 21. After a 22-all tie, Winthrop claimed the last three points and the victory, 25-22.
Morgan Bossler notched 13 kills for Winthrop, while Makayla Doyle added 12. Hannah Lackey paced the Eagles with 19 digs, and Siani Yamaguchi recorded 37 assists.
With the win, Winthrop improves to 7-3, while the Paladins fall to 0-9.
Furman will face Appalachian State Friday at noon also in Rock Hill.