Areanna Nixon

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Curtiss finishes up her senior year

For senior outside hitter Jannelle Curtiss, volleyball has provided the sense of solidarity she had grown accustomed to throughout her life.

Curtiss played as team captain of her high school volleyball team in the Bahamas and even played for the national volleyball team at the age of 14.

“I was the youngest. I traveled with them and it was like all these older people. I was like the little baby so they always took care of me.” Curtiss said.

Curtiss has experienced a similar level of care here from her teammates at Charlotte. When she experienced a great deal of homesickness her freshman year, her team made sure to help her feel more at home.

Curtiss, in her four years at UNC Charlotte, has taken on an active role both defensively and offensively, having played 111 sets, ranking third in team blocks, fourth in kills and third in points. But finding the balance between volleyball and other aspects of life was not always easy.

“My freshman year, I definitely struggled trying to find time for volleyball [and] trying to find time to be with friends outside of volleyball. Then you have school work too,” Curtiss said.

Curtiss gathers much support and insight from her support system though.

“I feel like I’m really an individual whose really grown up from a community. It’s always been not just [my mother] raising me,” Curtiss said.

Since the passing of her father 11 years ago, Curtiss has confided in a number of parent-like mentors.

“My aunt is like my second mom. I have a coach, he started volleyball with me; if anything happens, he’s like a father to me. I have two father figures back home, I can always call for anything,” Curtiss said. “It’s just like I’ve been raised by a whole community so I feel like I have so much people to look up to, and so many people to lean on.”

Despite leaving her family and many friends in the Bahamas, Curtiss does not feel alone here at UNC Charlotte.

“I don’t think I’m here by myself ’cause I have my team. Even though for the past four years, it’s been like different people, we’re together everyday. I don’t really feel alone.” said Curtiss.

Curtiss has witnessed increased support for the 49er volleyball program since her freshman debut in 2015. The team, in their Dig Pink Match against FIU, saw a season high in attendance of 1,600 fans, where in earlier games, the program averaged 730 fans at home.

“It’s been really good seeing that change happen from time as a freshman. It’s good to see that they’re starting to support us.” said Curtiss.

Much of the excitement in recent volleyball games has been attributed to the presence of other campus programs.

“We love it when football comes, and the band. It just brings so much energy and so much support. It kinda forces you to play to the best of your ability,” said Curtiss. “I really hope when I leave they continue to do it more often.”

In light of her experiences as a student and volleyball player at UNC, Curtiss is seemingly pleased with her decision to attend UNC Charlotte

“I love Charlotte. I’m really happy that I decided to come here. The school…it’s just so good. The program is good. The teachers are really good. The people I’ve met here, I’ll never replace that.” Curtiss said.

Curtiss plans to continue her studies in exercise science post-graduation.

“I might go to grad school, and if I don’t go to grad school, I’ll go to med school.” Curtiss said.

Curtiss is considering UNC Charlotte graduate programs as well as medicinal studies at the University of West Indies in her hometown.

Charlotte blows out FIU 3-0

The Charlotte 49ers took on the 2017 regular season conference champions, FIU, in a game where the Panthers went scoreless.

Charlotte, who was returning home from a loss against Radford, had a fast start with the first goal by junior forward Maclean Holbrook within the first four minutes.

The Niners quickly opened the second half with the second goal scored by Patrick Hogan, assisted by Teddy Chaouche, who ranks third in C-USA in assists.

“The second half was much the same, just a tiny tweak here or there. Encouraged our guys to be a little more aggressive with the press,” said Coach Kevin Langan.

With 4:45 remaining in regulation, Preston Popp fired the final goal, for his second of the season.

Forward Daniel Bruce, who leads the team with two assists, set up the first and final points of the game against FIU.

The Niners finished the game with 22 shots compared to FIU’s 8, for an impressive defensive effort.

“We put on a really good defensive display, very organized, very structured,” said Langan.

Goalkeeper Elliot Panicco, who was recently named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week recorded three saves in today’s game. Panicco nationally ranks No. 19 in goals-against average, allowing .66 goals per game.

“Tonight was our best, most complete performance of the season,” said Langan.

Holbrook shared the same sentiment concerning the team’s overall performance against the Panthers.

“FIU’s done pretty well in the conference, but today we knew what we had to do and we had a good game, and we executed,” said Holbrook.

The Charlotte 49ers will take on the Marshall Herd Saturday, Oct. 20 in Huntington, W.Va. at 11 a.m.

“Marshall’s always a tough team to play against, but if we come out like we did today, and have a good game plan, and execute it I think we’ll do fine. We’ve got an important run of games coming up, so we gotta play our best each and every game,” said Holbrook.

 

 

The 49ers defeat WKU 40-14, making program history

The Charlotte 49ers snapped a two-game losing streak, playing an explosive game against WKU, as the program itself put up historical statistics and individual players climbed rankings in a number of categories.

The 49ers in their 40 point homecoming game made program history with the most points scored in a C-USA game and the largest win margin.

Running back Benny LeMay scored two touchdowns and rushed for a total of 121 yards marking his fourth career game of 100+ yards.

The opening drive ended abruptly as Charlotte’s senior linebacker Juwan Foggie picked off quarterback Davis Shanley, and returned for 27 yards. This interception set Benny LeMay up for a 35-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter, despite the failed 2-point conversion attempt.

“It’s definitely a great advantage to start off inside the 50,” said LeMay.

Foggie set the tempo for the Niner offense as he tied the record for single-game (two) and single-season picks, totaling four.

After two consecutive three-and-outs by both teams, Western Kentucky quarterback Shanley responded by completing a 42-yard pass to Jacquez Sloan, which lead to a rushing touchdown by Kevaris Thomas late in the quarter.

The 49ers reassembled in the second half after a relatively slow start, scoring 21 points in just the third quarter, setting another program record, as they maintained possession for 12 minutes.

“The third quarter was extremely energetic and clean,” said Head Coach Brad Lambert.

Quarterback Evan Shirreffs, who filled in for starter Chris Reynolds, completed four of his five passing attempts for a total of 90 yards in the third quarter.

Shirreffs scored in the opening drive with a one-yard scramble, along with running backs LeMay and Aaron McAllister.

Reynolds was ruled as “questionable to return” after a reported ankle injury. The severity of the injury is not yet known.

Shirreffs proved to be efficient in his playing time, passing for a total of 118 yards and completing a touchdown pass to Rico Arnold for 28 yards in the fourth quarter.

“It’s just your job to be ready at any time and I was really staying loose on the sideline, waiting on my shot,” said Shirreffs.

Lambert was satisfied with the quarterback’s performance.

“He came in and he handled the situation well,” said Lambert

The high caliber level of play from multiple players in today’s game, for Lambert, demonstrated the flexibility of the 49er roster.

“We try to have competition and depth at every position and I feel like we have that,” said Lambert.

The Niners look to bring a little of this competition to Middle Tennessee as they face the Blue Raiders next Saturday, Oct. 20 at 3 p.m.

Charlotte sweeps Middle Tennessee

Yumi Garcia connects with the ball. Photo by Daniel Head

The Niners pulled out a deserved win in a three-set game after a two-game losing streak.

“It’s been a long time on the road and we were looking forward to coming back,” said head coach Karen Weatherington

The Charlotte 49ers rallied on the eve of homecoming to win their third home game after returning from a losing streak on the road.

Senior outside hitter Jannelle Curtiss set the tone by leading the team in kills (three) in the initial set, as well as points for each of the three sets.

Jocelyn Stoner, junior middle blocker also had a noteworthy performance, tying with Curtiss in each of those categories, or coming second to her.

Charlotte easily dominated each of the sets with only six lead changes within the hour long game.

With 98 Total Attack attempts and seven errors, Charlotte demonstrated significant offensive efficiency, compared to that of Middle Tennessee’s 22-117.

Freshman server Nya Steele alone beat out Middle Tennessee with a total of 32 assists against their 27.

Charlotte also mustered a relatively great defensive effort with 13 blocks as the Blue Raiders struggled with a total of one.

“Today I thought we were efficient from beginning to end,” said Weatherington.

Coach Weatherington attributed much of that fast start to the home advantage.

“I think we rode off that energy and really got our defense going,” said Weatherington. “There was a lot of great energy thanks to the band and football [team] and all the other sports coming out. We had our alumni here so it really provided what we needed.”

The Charlotte 49ers will take on the UAB Blazers (10-9, 2-3) at home in another conference game on Sunday, Oct. 14.

“UAB is clicking well. They have a new coach that’s got a lot of energy and fire that she’s brought to the program. And we know they’re a very similar team as us. We match up very well.” said Weatherington.

In hopes of successfully capping off homecoming, Coach Weatherington is confident in the team’s ability in this next matchup.

“We just have to come out and really do what we did today.” said Weatherington.

The Right Fit

Senior Ed Rolle prepares for the next play. Photo by Chris Crews

Charlotte 49er Ed Rolle has reached his senior year and will not be leaving quietly. The third-year defensive back boasts four career interceptions, making him 2nd in all-time Niner history.

“At first I didn’t know about the school, but I honestly just gave it a shot.” 

But Ed Rolle’s defensive presence as a 49er didn’t come about without a number of challenges and uncertainty.

“The biggest hurdle getting into college was coming out of high school,” said Rolle. “Because, of course, I had offers coming out of high school, but they didn’t stick.”

Rolle’s opportunities in collegiate football were severed at the time as he struggled to meet the certain academic requirements.

As an alternative, Rolle attended a junior college, Garner City. Rolle was introduced to the prospect of playing 49er football after meeting Coach Wally, Charlotte’s former defensive coordinator, who told him to visit the campus.

“He told me: come up to visit; if you like it, you can play. I came up and fell in love with the campus,” said Rolle. 

Rolle even happens to draw similarities between his hometown, Miami, and the city of Charlotte.

“I love Uptown. I like the setup there; it’s similar to downtown Miami,” said Rolle. “It’s a big city, it has a lot of people. Charlotte’s the same way.”

But Rolle found that his connection to Florida led to two of his closest teammate bonds among the defensive backfield, whom he has even prayed with ahead of games.

“One player I’m particularly close to is Ben DeLuca. Being that we’re both from Florida, I feel like that’s why we’ve got a close connection,” said Rolle. “Sometimes during our offseason, we’ll get our workouts in together. I’ll probably go to Orlando or he’ll come to Miami.”

According to Ed Rolle, these sorts of relationships are part of what has defined his collegiate football experience. DeLuca and defensive back Denzel Irvin have impacted Rolle greatly, quickly becoming those go-to guys when he first stepped into Charlotte, with Irvin taking on a distinct brotherly role during his first years with the program.

“Denzel had definitely taken me under, showing me the ropes, how to be a good player and showing the Charlotte brand. So he’s definitely one of the guys I admire and look up to,” said Rolle.

At the professional level, Rolle actually looks up to a handful of NFL defensive players, including DJ Swearinger, Washington Redskins safety, who he watches before every game and even emulates his “double spoons” field celebration.

“He’s a great player, he’s a great guy and he’s very passionate about football, just as I am. So he’s definitely a guy I look up to,” said Rolle.

But life as a 49er off the field has been made equally congenial by the UNC Charlotte community. 

“My favorite thing about Charlotte is definitely the people. The people here are very welcoming. I walk around in my Charlotte gear and I get asked how the team is looking. People are very interested. That’s something I look forward to attending school every day.”

As far as schooling, Rolle has jumped around between several different science majors since getting to college. With a major in geography, Rolle intends to help make a difference in underdeveloped places around the world, or even within the U.S.

“I want to go out and reach out and help the people in need who are undeveloped. Places like third-world countries, they need help and I want to go out and help,” said Rolle.

49ers push past Herd

Megan Greene brings the ball up. Photo by Patrick Magoon

The Charlotte 49er’s brushed past Marshall for their last game of the month to put them at 8-3 overall, and 4-0 in the conference.

Midfielder Jayne Lawman of Marshall put up the first point of the game hardly two minutes after its start, reaching her third goal of the season.

Junior forward Julia Grainda, who reached a season total of four goals, responded with the first goal for Charlotte assisted by midfielder Sophie Sipprell.

The 49ers maintained a strong defensive presence throughout the game, allowing for 4 shot attempts, compared to their 23.

The team also responded seemingly well to their halftime rally.

“I felt like everything we did in the first half was a step slow,” said Coach John Cullen.

Grainda put up a rebounded goal for Charlotte in just the first two minutes, to establish momentum for the 49ers entering the second half.

The Charlotte lead was eventually sealed by a penalty kick late into the game with 7:25 remaining.

With less than three minutes left, Marshall responded with a goal by forward Marah Abu-Tayeh, making the final board 2-3.

“I knew this one was probably gonna be a very difficult one,” said Cullen.

On Friday, Oct. 5 the Charlotte 49ers meet with Southern Mississippi who also stands 8-3 overall.

After battling through their third game of the week and fourth in 11 days, the team hopes to take advantage of the five-day break.

“Recover Monday, and get the team refreshed again and ready to travel and do what we’re capable of doing. We need to be playing better now, we’re going into October” said Cullen. “That’s the next challenge for the team. We’ve done what we need to do, won two out of two games at home, picked up six points. Now if we can go on the road and pick up some points that’s a bonus.”

The Niners will take on Southern Mississippi on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. in Hattiesburg.