The Charlotte 49ers dropped the fifth set to Middle Tennessee (MTSU) 10-15 to lose Sunday afternoon’s battle in Halton Arena (17-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 10-15), allowing 70 kills to the Blue Raiders.
“I don’t think we showed up to play our best today,” head coach Karen Weatherington said. “I think we took a little bit for granted because Middle Tennessee hasn’t been flowing very well. I didn’t think we had our best showing today for sure.”
Tied up at 15 in the first set, the 49ers (7-15, 1-6 C-USA) used a couple attack errors from MTSU and ace serve from Tatyana Thomas to go up 17-15, attempting to start the game on a high-note.
The Blue Raiders had other things in mind after they called a timeout to stop Charlotte’s momentum, going on a 10-0 run to end the first set behind four kills from Regan Coughlin and brilliant serving from Meg Irvin.
In the second set, Charlotte tied the game, 6-6, with two kills from Molly Shaw and one a piece from Jocelyn Stoner and Thomas. With senior Shelby Green back to serve for the 49ers, Charlotte went on a 6-0 run, including two aces, giving the 49ers a 12-6 lead.
In a game full of long streaks from both teams, the Blue Raiders fought their way back, now trailing 16-19. After a kill from Janell Sparks, MTSU used back-to-back kills from Aubrie Huddleston to light the comeback, scoring six-straight points, going up 22-19.
The final points went back-and-forth, but Middle Tennessee used a couple attack errors from Charlotte to take the second set by two, 25-23.
Late in the third set, with the 49ers’ backs against wall, Charlotte went on a 6-0 run to jump out to a 22-17 lead, using another strong-streak of serves from Green. The 49ers went on to take the last set 25-20, scoring the final point of the set from a block by Shaw and Thomas.
Jumping out to a 10-6 lead, the 49ers increased on their 4-point lead throughout most of the fourth set, leading to a 19-11 advantage over MTSU. Although the Blue Raiders fought their way back to create a little scare to coach Weatherington and the 49ers, Charlotte forced a decisive fifth-set with a kill from Thomas to cap-off the 25-22 victory in the fourth.
Going to 15 in the final set, MTSU earned a 9-5 lead, pulling away from the 49ers to win 15-10.
Charlotte will welcome UNCG for their annual “Dig Pink” match at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. The first 2,000 fans will receive a free pink t-shirt.