The Charlotte 49ers volleyball team defeated the Elon Phoenix in four sets Friday afternoon at Dale F. Halton Arena, behind a dominant performance from University of Montana transfer Janell Sparks, recording 14 kills to lead the 49ers to victory in their first game of the 2016 season.
It all started with an ace by freshman Sofie Perrens, setting the precedent for how the first set played out.
Behind great hitting from the 49ers front-line consisting of Anna Henderson, Janell Sparks, Kaylyn Torain and Katria Stewart, Charlotte built a comfortable 15-to-8 lead, forcing an Elon timeout, only lighting more fuel to the fire for Charlotte.
The 49ers (1-0, 0-0 C-USA) went on to score seven of the next eight plays after the timeout, including pinpoint serving from Morgan Barker and Sparks.
Tatyana Thomas scored the last point for the 49ers to give them a 25-14 victory over Elon in the first set, her only kill of the set.
Elon (0-1, 0-0 CAA) made the adjustments to begin the second set, taking an 8-to-4 lead, leading to a Charlotte timeout.
Molly Shaw helped the 49ers start their comeback, hustling over to press row to bring a ball back to the Charlotte back-line, getting the point and the momentum. Charlotte played solid defense at the net to continue their comeback, taking a 9-to-8 lead, forcing another Phoenix timeout.
Out of the timeout, Charlotte and Elon went back and forth for a few minutes, trading spike for spike, knowing that the second set would go down to the wire.
A block by Jocelyn Stoner gave Charlotte a 19-to-18 lead. The very next play, a beautiful dig from Shaw led to a point for Charlotte, now a two point edge for the 49ers, leading 20-to-18.
Charlotte took the second set 25-23, winning the set on a service error by Sydel Curry. giving Charlotte a two-set lead going into halftime.
The Elon Phoenix took set number three behind Curry and Kam Terry, needing to win set four to send the match into a decisive set five.
The 49ers opened up the fourth set in Halton Arena with a 9-to-4 lead, forcing a Phoenix timeout.
After Elon clawed their way back for four straight points to bring them within three points of the 49ers, Sparks slammed home a ball to end the run. The 49ers scored three straight to get to match point, leading 24-to-20,
The Montana transfer Sparks laid down the hammer to win the match, giving Charlotte their first win of the 2016 season.
Charlotte will play again Friday night in Halton Arena, where they will take on Mercer beginning at 7:00 p.m. (depending on games before).