The 49ers defeated the Eastern Kentucky Colonels 3-1 (21-25, 25-12, 25-19, 25-22) to claim the Charlotte Invitational Title.
“I’m really excited to take home a trophy to hang in the locker room and have some hardware,” said 49ers’ head coach Karen Weatherington.
The 49ers compelled EKU head coach Johnna Fouch to call an early timeout in the first set by claiming a quick 5-1 lead. The 49ers, however, maintained their lead until the Colonels scored four unanswered points midway through the first set to knot the score at 12-12. Neither the Colonels nor the 49ers could pull away, so Weatherington called the 49ers’ first timeout of the match with the score tied 19-19. Out of the timeout, the Colonels went on a 6-2 scoring run to claim the first set 25-12.
Eastern Kentucky miscues in the second set assisted Charlotte in building an early 5-2 lead. The 49ers capitalized on the Colonels’ mistakes and remained in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the set. Charlotte won the second set in dominant fashion, holding the Colonels to only 12 points.
Charlotte jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the 3rd set behind aggressive offensive play. Eastern Kentucky never led during the set, as the 49ers continued to ride their momentum and take a commanding 2-1 match lead with a 25-18 victory.
“That’s the biggest part of the game; to stay aggressive, and they did that,” said Weatherington.
In the fourth set, the momentum shifted to Eastern Kentucky as the Colonels took an 11-6 lead midway through the 4th. The 49ers, with the help of two EKU illegal contact violations, showcased their resilience and fought back into the set behind a 6-1 scoring run, cutting the Colonels’ lead to 12-10. Once Charlotte took a 16-15 lead, they never trailed again despite EKU threatening to take the lead several times in a wire-to-wire finish. The 49ers won the set 25-22.
“We have a lot of resilience,” said Weatherington.
On offense, Tyra Galloway and Sydney Rowan led the 49ers with 11 and 10 kills respectively. Galloway and Rowan also registered two aces each.
“Sydney carries a big load and she really brings a calmness and uniqueness to the floor,” said Weatherington. “Tyra stepped it up and played at a very high level, and then combining them together, the energy and chemistry they create throughout our team really takes us to great places as a team.”
On defense, Yumi Garcia tallied 30 digs while Jocelyn Stoner and Galloway made six and five blocks respectively.
Junior outside hitter Galloway was named the tournament MVP while senior libero Garcia and junior outside hitter Rowan were awarded all-tournament team honors.
The 49ers are looking forward to the challenge against in-state ACC-opponent Duke University.
“I’m looking forward to playing in Cameron. It’s a little bit of a return home for me,” said Weatherington. “We’re looking to contend against some state teams.”
The 49ers travel to Durham, NC to take on the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.