CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern won their first match in the Al Givens' era on the first day of the Willie Jewell's Volleyball Invitational, topping Canisius in five sets in their first match of the afternoon and the Buccaneers completed the first day sweep behind record setting performances by Erin LaVenice and Wynter Davis against USC Upstate as the Buccaneers downed the Spartans in five sets.
Charleston Southern opens up the final day of the Willie Jewell’s Volleyball Invitational Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers host Mercer University at 2 p.m. CSU closes out the tournament Saturday evening against Furman University in the final match of the day, with first serve set for 7 p.m.
Match One: CSU 3, Canisius 2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-7)
The Charleston Southern volleyball team recorded their first win in the Al Givens’ coaching era behind Sydney Tracy’s double-double as the Buccaneers topped the Canisius Golden Griffins on the first day of the Willie Jewell’s Volleyball Invitational in the Buccaneer Field house in five sets, 22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-7.
Tracy led the way for the Buccaneers (1-3) as the sophomore outside hitter finished with a match-high 18 kills and 22 digs in the first double-double recorded by Charleston Southern on the season. Jessica Warner led three Golden Griffin (1-3) players in double-digits kills with 13 as Canisius fell in their first match of the weekend.
"Syd had a great match for us offensively," commented Givens on the match. "She passed the ball really well and just really played great for us. We needed a match like this to know that we can be up 2-1, lose the fourth set and still come back for the win."
Erin LaVenice added nine kills and Wynter Davis had as the Buccaneers hit .199 from the floor as a team in the contest. Kirsten Struksnes set up the CSU attack with 30 set assists in the match, while Ashley Higgenbothem (14) and Siraya Windsor (11) had double-digit digs for Charleston Southern. Davis and LaVenice combined for 10 total blocks in the match as the Buccaneers recorded a season high 11 blocks in the match.
Canisius jumped out to an early 9-3 lead in the first set, but Charleston Southern battled back on Windsor’s serve, cutting the deficit to 12-11 with an 8-2 run as Windsor placed in a service ace. The teams struggled to serve in the opening set, combining for 10 service errors. Canisius broke the CSU serve and held on for the rest of the set, closing out the 25-22 victory on a kill by Logan Sulongga to go up 1-0.
Charleston Southern and Canisius battled through the second set with CSU taking the lead early behind a pair of LaVenice kills to hold the 11-8 advantage. Canisius kept the set close, closing to 21-20 on a block by Warner and Samantha Good, but back-to-back kills by Meredith Parrott and Windsor opened up a three point lead as Charleston Southern evened the match with a 25-22 victory after a LaVenice kill.
The Buccaneers scored eight of the first 10 points in the third set to jump out to the early lead and led 16-8 following a Canisius ball-handling error. Tracy led the Buccaneers with four kills in the set, while LaVenice added three of her own as Charleston Southern led by as many as nine points at 24-15 before closing out the set on a Golden Griffin attack error.
Jordan Tylec broke open a close-nit fourth set as the teams stood tied through the first 22 points of the frame, placing a service ace in as the Golden Griffens built a 20-14 lead. Charleston Southern battled back with a 7-0 run highlighted by a combined block by LaVenice and Davis, going up 21-20, but the comeback fell short as Emily Elek recorded back-to-back kills to give Canisius the advantage as the teams went into the deciding fifth set following the 25-21 set victory.
A 9-0 run in the fifth set on Higgenbothem’s serve put the Buccaneers ahead early as CSU cruised to the 15-7 set and match win.
"This match was a labor of love as we had all the momentum heading into the fourth set, but its to their credit that Canisius came back all fired up," said Givens on the match. "I really liked what we showed in the fifth game. Our setters did a great job at the end, making sure the right people got the ball and we were able to come home with the win."
Match Two: CSU 3, USC Upstate 2 (25-23, 12-25, 25-17, 25-27, 15-4)
Erin LaVenice and Wynter Davis each surpassed the CSU single match record for blocks and Sydney Tracy and Katrina Houston combined for 24 kills as the Buccaneers topped USC Upstate in the final match on the first day of the Willie Jewell’s Volleyball Invitational in the Buccaneer Fieldhouse in five sets, 25-23, 12-25, 25-17, 25-27, 15-4.
Charleston Southern (2-3) shattered the previous CSU single game record for total blocks as the Buccaneers recorded 19 total blocks against the Spartans on the evening. LaVenice set a school record with 13 block assists in the match, while Davis added 11 as the Buccaneers broke the single game record of 15 blocks, which CSU had reached twice in program history on Oct. 15, 2010 against Presbyterian and on Oct. 20, 2007 against Radford.
"We’re blocking the ball really, really well and we need to continue to build off that," commented head coach Al Givens on the match. "If we have to go five sets, we want to win and Sydney (Tracy) strung together back-to-back big time performances for us and Katrina (Houston) really came on in sets four and five and did some great things for us. We made mistakes in this match, but I think the biggest lesson our team learned is that we stayed the course and they just kept working and working and it paid off for them in the end."
Tracy added 13 kills in the match, running her total on the first day to 31 as the sophomore outside hitter continued to display her ability all over the court. Houston came on strong in the final two sets to finish with 11 kills in the match, hitting .292 from the floor and added three blocks to the teams’ totals in the match.
Upstate jumped out to the early lead in the first set, scoring the first five points of the match, but the Buccaneers came roaring back with a 16-5 run sparked by four blocks by CSU as well as a pair of Tracy kills as CSU built a 16-10 advantage. Upstate rallied back, tying the match up at 17 apiece on a kill by Mindy Quimby, but an ace by Siraya Windsor put the Buccaneers ahead as CSU took the first set on a Tracy kill to go up 1-0 with the 25-23 victory.
In the second set, Upstate broke a 5-all tie with a 10-1 run as Quimby recorded three consecutive kills for the Spartans during the stretch as USC Upstate went up 15-6 on their way to cruising to the 25-12 victory to even the match at 1-apiece.
Meredith Parrott was involved in back-to-back blocks for Charleston Southern early in the third set as CSU built a 14-9 advantage. The lead stretched to nine points at 23-14 following a Windsor kill off the assist from Cassidy Greer before Tracy again closed out the set with the final point to put the Bucs within one set of the day sweep.
USC Upstate held a 24-21 advantage in the fourth set following a kill by Kayla McAvoy, but the Buccaneers rallied behind LaVenice and Parrott at the net as the duo combined for back-to-back blocks to knot the match up at 24-all. After an Upstate service error tied the match at 25, Quimby closed out the set with back-to-back kills to send the teams to the deciding fifth set.
The Buccaneers recorded four blocks in the first 10 points of the final set in building a 10-1 advantage and Kirsten Struksnes served CSU home to their second five-set victory on the day as the Buccaneers closed out the match with the 15-4 victory.
Greer set up the Buccaneers attack with 25 set assists as CSU hit .169 for the match, .455 in the final set in recording the win. Ashley Higgenbothem led the CSU defense with 19 digs, while Windsor added 11 digs as well as seven kills to the CSU totals.
"Our setters are starting to put it all together now," said Givens about the team’s success in the match. "We can’t get satisfied on what we’ve done, so we’ll enjoy this for a little while and start game-planning and getting ready for Mercer tomorrow afternoon."