The 49ers fought hard in their final match of the season but fell to FIU in three sets
Florida International University entered Charlotte with an agenda and they played it to perfection as they spoiled the 49er’s volleyball team’s senior night Saturday, Nov. 14 (25-20, 26-24, 25-18). Charlotte was close to grabbing the second set to even to match but FIU rallied to snatch the game right off their fingertips. It wasn’t the ideal way the seniors wanted to go out, but they all know that they played their hearts out last night and all season long.
“We had some great high moments this season,” commented 49ers’ head coach Karen Weatherington. “We had a big run against Marshall and we played some great matches on the road in five. For us in our hearts and minds, some of those losses were wins. We had a great season.”
In the first set, Charlotte jumped out to a quick start, led by Kaylyn Torain and Britney Leigh Held who provided early aces. Anna Henderson added a kill to make it 13-10 and forced FIU to call for time. When play resumed, Abreia Epps added a kill and Henderson calculated a block to give Charlotte a 16-11 lead. FIU started their comeback by knotting the game up at 18 and then closing the set out on a 7-2 run (25-20).
Charlotte was in control for most of the second set lead by McDonald who threw down two kills and Held added one of her own. After a Charlotte timeout, the Panthers again put a rally together after the score read 23-19. They would go on a 7-1 run to take the set (26-24). Charlotte was close to knotting up the match but a couple of miscues cost them the set. Charlotte had to play catch up for most of the third set as a slow start would prove that they were running out of steam. After losing a close second set, it seemed as if Charlotte’s chances of a comeback were slim but they continued to play to the best of their abilities.
After shortly being tied at four, Charlotte would fall behind 16-10. Charlotte recorded a couple of blocks and cut the lead to four points, 19-15. Semen Sen would make the final kill of the season to bring the score to 22-16. The Panthers would go on to continue the sweep 25-18.
McDonald led the Niners with nine kills while Torain and Sen followed right behind with eight. Henderson had a pleasing evening as she put down seven kills to hit a career-best .636 without an error all match. Held contributed with 32 final assists while adding nine digs. Green led the niners with 13 digs and three aces. McDonald, Held and Michelle Hovey all played their final matches as a 49er volleyball player on Saturday night as it was a bittersweet way to go out.
“It’s been nothing but a joy to coach Britney, Sarah and Michelle,” said Weatherington. “They did a great job. They are the quintessential volleyball players. They do everything right in the classroom, community and on the court. That’s a strong group. Michelle sat out last year so to come out into a new coaching system takes a lot of evolving and changing and she set that standard. Britney is like a wind-up toy. She plays and plays and plays until she doesn’t have anything left. Sarah is a bright star and had a breakout season. They set the foundation for the competitiveness for seasons to come.”