The Charlotte 49ers volleyball team (3-3) dropped their first game of their month long road trip to Illinois-Chicago in four sets, but went on defeat Jacksonville and Presbyterian in four sets to end their weekend trip at the JAX Classic in Florida on a high note.
Charlotte 1, Illinois-Chicago 3
Charlotte (1-3) took on a very good Illinois-Chicago (4-0) team to open up the tournament Friday night, losing in four sets (25-23, 20-25, 22-25, 24-26), despite an 18-kill performance from freshman Molly Shaw.
After the game, head coach for the 49ers Karen Weatherington said, “After a long travel day and the concerns about the hurricane, we really showed up to play. It was a hard fought match as the scores indicate. It was a fast paced match and it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t finish it in our favor due to some integral errors. However, we were very pleased with our performance and have great momentum to take us into tomorrow.”
The 49ers trailed 12-to-13 in the first set but fought their way back to take a 17-to-13 advantage, scoring six straight points behind a Shaw ace, two kills from Tatyana Thomas, and two more kills from Shaw. Charlotte went on to trade point-for-point with UIC, finishing the first set behind a UIC attack error.
UIC and Charlotte gave the fans in attendance their money’s worth, taking the last three sets down to the wire. Illinois-Chicago won the last three sets by a combined 10 points, staying perfect on the season and sending the 49ers to a 1-3 record.
Thomas finished with five blocks, with Jocelyn Stoner adding in four. Janell Sparks and Thomas both had 11 kills behind Shaw’s 18 kills. Shelby Green led both teams with 17 digs, while Shaw and Sofie Perrens added in 9 digs.
Charlotte 3, Jacksonville 1
The 49ers (2-3) bounced back from their hard fought battle against UIC to beat Jacksonville in four sets (26-24, 25-15, 19-25, 26-24) Saturday afternoon, using 15 team blocks and another impressive performance from Shaw with 15 kills and two aces.
“I am thrilled with the way we played today,” said Weatherington. “It was definitely a team effort that culminated into an exciting win. Molly (Shaw) continues to be a steady force as a six rotation player. I’m incredibly proud of her taking on such a big role for a freshman. It’s fun to watch the seniors bring great leadership, combined with energy of the younger players. We must continue to develop a rhythm and balanced offensive system with Sofie Perrens and Mackenzie Reaume, and we will produce wins like today.”
Charlotte got off to a shaky start to begin the first set against Jacksonville, but used three-straight kills from Shaw to take a 12-to-8 lead. After going up by five points, JU fought their way back to tie the first set up at 18. The 49ers pulled away to take the first set by two behind a kill from Stoner and an ace to win the first set.
The 49ers cruised by JU in the second set, jumping out to a 6-1 lead and never looking back, going on multiple runs of three-straight points to win by 10.
Jacksonville (3-2) didn’t go down without a fight, winning the third set by winning 10 of the last 14 points, forcing a fourth set.
Late in the fourth set, Charlotte’s Stewart and Thomas put the team on their back, winning four of the last five points, capturing their second victory of the season.
Shaw led the team with 15 kills and two aces, with 10 kills from Thomas and eight from Stoner. Green added in two aces and 25 digs. Thomas and senior Anna Henderson both had six blocks, with Stoner having five. Reaume led the 49ers with 25 assists.
Charlotte 3, Presbyterian 1
Weatherington’s Charlotte crew (3-3) finished the JAX Classic with a close victory over Presbyterian in four sets (25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20) behind a great team effort to get back to .500 on the season.
“We definitely raised our level today,” said Weatherington. “Coming off an intense battle with Jacksonville, we wanted to focus on earning points and controlling our first contact. Shelby (Green) and Morgan (Barker) orchestrated our back court and led passing and defense. Molly (Shaw) and Katria (Stewart) took great swings to lead the attack. It was a great weekend for the Niners. We get better every time we take the court.”
Charlotte took a 10-to-3 lead thanks to great serving from Shaw and kills from Thomas, not looking back in the first set, winning it on an ace from Stoner.
The 49ers trailed for the majority of the second set after going up early 6-3. Presbyterian (2-4) looked like they were going to run away with the second set, behind a couple aces from Samantha Del Toro, leading 6-to-9.
As usual, Charlotte didn’t let the deficit effect how they played, consistently scoring late in the match to tie the set up at 18. The 49ers used three attack errors from PC to jump out to a three point lead, 22-to-19. Presbyterian, down by four and set point for Charlotte, had a service area to lose set two.
Presbyterian went on to take the third set by five, 20-to-25, despite trailing Charlotte for the majority of the set.
In the fourth set, the 49ers scored nine out of the last 11 points to defeat PC, winning their second match of the day and improving to a .500 record on the season.
Charlotte will come home for a week of practice before traveling to the William & Mary Colonial Classic for games on Sept. 9 and 10 against William & Mary, Coppin State, and Western Carolina.