The Winthrop volleyball team pulled out a thrilling 3-2, five-set victory Friday in its season-opening match over the Hampton University Pirates in the 2012 North Carolina Central Volleyball Invitational.

“I’m happy with the win,” coach Julie Torbett said. “We all know that we have work to do to get better, but it was good to see our competitiveness tonight to grit out a five-set victory.”

Winthrop came out strong to start the first set, jumping out to a 7-1 lead. Hampton fought back to get within three at 12-9, but a 6-3 run by the Eagles opened an 18-12 advantage. Winthrop was able to hold off a late charge from the Pirates to take the first set 25-20.

The Eagles were unable to find a rhythm in the second set and neither team was able to gather a real edge before Hampton took a slim 18-15 lead. Winthrop pulled to 20-19 before the Pirates took the last five points to take the second set 25-19. Hampton took the momentum of its second-set victory into the third as it rolled over the Eagles 25-12 to take a 2-1 set lead.

Winthrop was not going away quietly as the Eagles forced a decisive fifth set with a 25-21 fourth-set victory. After an even opening 20 points of the fourth set, Winthrop opened a slim 18-14 lead and once again staved off the Pirates’ attack to take the fourth set.

Hampton came out the aggressor to start the fifth set, taking an early 7-4 lead, but the young Winthrop team persevered to come back and tie the set at 9-9. The two teams remained tied at 11-11, before the Eagles took the final four points of the match behind the serve of sophomore Jennica Mullins. read more…