Drew Pescaro

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49ers fall short in comeback effort at UMASS

Benny LeMay runs the ball. Photo by Chris Crews

On Saturday, Sept. 22, Charlotte Football (2-2) hit the road for their first road game of the season against the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Minutemen (2-3). The 49ers were unable to overcome a 28 point first quarter deficit and lost their second game of the season 49-31.

UMASS jumped out to a quick start on a 93-yard kick return touchdown on the first play of the game by running back Marquis Young. The Minutemen continued to capitalize on 49ers special team mistakes when a bad snap on a punt attempt led to a short yardage situation.

Charlotte was held to 90 total yards of offense in the first half and was facing an upward climb to get back in the game. The 49ers were down 35-10 entering the third quarter, but were able to break out and finish the game with 31 points and 364 total yards. UMASS tacked on two more touchdowns and hung on for their second win of the season.

Both quarterbacks had impressive performances in the game that had 80 total points scored between both teams. Charlotte’s Quarterback Chris Reynolds had 283 yards and three touchdowns on 23 for 34 throws. The freshman connection between Reynolds and receiver Victor Tucker shined once again as Tucker reeled in eight receptions for 130 yards.

UMASS QB Michael Curtis made his first career start and displayed solid poise against a scrappy 49ers defense. Curtis was able to put up 189 yards and two touchdowns on 12 for 19 throws. Curtis added two more touchdowns in the rushing attack to finish with four total touchdowns.

49ers RB Benny Lemay was held to 68 yards on 15 rushes but did reach the end zone. This was in large part due to a stout UMASS defense led by Bryton Barr who finished with 21 total tackles.

Charlotte has a lot to feel good about from this game even with it going down as a loss. They were able to bounce back from a 28 point deficit and make the second half competitive. The 49ers will be back in action on Sept. 29 when they head to Alabama to play C-USA opponent University of Alabama at Birmingham.

49ers unable to top Mountaineers

Ben DeLuca prepares for his next tackle. Photo by Chris Crews

On Saturday, Sept. 8, the Charlotte 49ers faced off against in-state opponent Appalachian State for the first time in program history. After a close first half, App State was able to run away with the game and defeated the 49ers by a score of 45-9.

Quarterback Zac Thomas was a perfect 14-14 passing and finished with 295 yards along with four touchdowns, including one rushing. 49ers safety Ben Deluca was a bright spot for the 49ers defense with 11 total tackles which led to him becoming the third all-time in program history in tackles behind Karrington King and Larry Ogunjobi.

In front of a record-setting crowd of 19,151, the 49ers found themselves down 17-3 with 6:46 to go in the second quarter. After Chris Reynolds and Victor Tucker connected twice for first downs and a face mask by the Mountaineers, 49ers Kicker Jonathan Cruz set a school record for the longest field goal by a freshman in program history at 54 yards.

 

The Mountaineers went on to score another touchdown and Cruz knocked in one more field goal to end the first half with a score of 24-9 in favor of App State. Charlotte was unable to score the rest of the way due to costly turnovers and the pass rush by the Mountaineers giving the 49ers quarterbacks trouble.

Quarterback Reynolds was sacked three times in the game and had to come off the field a few times. This led to backup Hasaan Klugh seeing extended time, mainly being used as a rusher.

“We had a package for Hasaan we wanted to put in the game…we’ll still have that package for Haasan because we gotta get him involved in the game, I want him involved in the game so he can affect it,” Coach Brad Lambert said

Both teams played exceptional defense against the run in the game. Charlotte held Mountaineers running back Jalin Moore to 38 yards on 11 rushes. App State answered by holding 49ers RB Benny LeMay to 35 yards on 7 carries.

Although the outcome was lopsided, both teams would like to continue competing in the future. There was mutual respect held between the 49ers and the Mountaineers as they met at the 50-yard line at the end of the game.

“I want the fans to know that’s not a representation of who we are. It was a unique opportunity and I hope they continue to come back and we are gonna continue to build moving forward and it’s gonna be a great season,” DeLuca said

The 49ers return to Jerry Richardson Stadium on Sept. 15 to take on Conference USA opponent Old Dominion. Charlotte will look to bounce back from this game in the matchup with the Monarchs.

Niners strike gold for their second straight year

Yumi Garcia prepares for the next opposing serve. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

Over the course of Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, the 49ers Volleyball team competed in the Pirate Invitational at East Carolina University. After winning two out of three of their matches in the tournament, the team was named the Pirate Invitational champions. Reanna Richardson took home the tournament MVP honors and was named to the all-tournament team alongside Jocelyn Stoner and Yumi Garcia.

The 49ers took on Gardner-Webb University in their first match of the tournament. Charlotte was able to defeat GWU in three sets to take home their first win of the Pirate Invitational. Molly Shaw led the team with 10 kills in the match and the 49ers had a .307 overall hitting percentage in the match.

Although they were swept, the Bulldogs put up a strong fight in the third set before being put away. After finding themselves down 18-12 late in the set, GWU made a strong comeback and tied the match up at 23 all. Charlotte was able to seal the victory after an error by the Bulldogs and a block by Stoner and Nya Steele.

In their next match, the 49ers were not as fortunate as they were defeated by Eastern Washington. Charlotte quickly found themselves down two sets to none, but managed to win the third set to keep the match alive. Eastern Washington eventually took the fourth set and finished the match with the victory.

49ers Reanna Richardson set a career high in kills with 25 despite the loss. Although the Niners led nearly every statistical category in the match, they were unable to get the points when needed in sets to get themselves their second victory in the tournament.

The third and final match of the tournament was against the hosting ECU Pirates. Charlotte showed no mercy against the Pirates and took them down in a three-set sweep. Richardson again led the 49ers in kills with 13 and Stoner contributed with nine kills and two blocks.

This was the second straight Pirate Invitational title for the 49ers and they now sit at a 7-5 record on the season. Charlotte returns to action in a road contest against NC Central University on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.

Lightning strikes in Charlotte

LeMay leads offense in career night. Photo by Chris Crews

On Saturday, Sept. 1, Jerry Richardson Stadium was the sight of the 49ers Football first home-opening victory since 2013.

Through many weather delays, Charlotte defeated the Fordham Rams by a score of 34-10. The 49ers took the win by way of a record performance from running back Benny LeMay, a strong overall defensive performance and a freshman connection between quarterback Chris Reynolds and wide receiver Victor Tucker.

The game started off a little slow and the 49ers only held a 13-7 lead at the half. Reynolds was sacked three times in the game, all of which came in the first half. After an extended halftime due to weather, the 49ers were able to take control of the game and eventually finish with the victory.

RB Benny LeMay had a career night and finished the game with 218 all-purpose yards (135 rushing, 83 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns. This was the first time in LeMay’s career that he had a two-touchdown performance in a single game.

LeMay also was able to surpass the 1,000 rushing yards milestone, becoming only the third 49er in program history to do so.

Even with the impressive stats, LeMay remained humble.

“I’d take the win over stats any day,” LeMay said

QB Reynolds and WR Tucker also had career nights in the victory. Reynolds finished the game with 267 passing yards which is more than the 49ers had in a game in 2017. He showed off his arm on many deep strikes including a 60-yard pass to Tucker. This was the longest pass by a Freshman quarterback in program history.

In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Reynolds found Tucker on a 12-yard touchdown pass. This was the first touchdown in both of their collegiate careers. Tucker finished the game with seven receptions for 127 total yards, second only in program history to former 49er Austin Duke who had 128.

The two freshmen appeared to have instant chemistry and the stats showed that throughout the game.

“Me and Vic got together a lot in the offseason. Vic makes it easy for me, he has really crisp routes and it really helps me out with timing,” Reynolds said.

Defense was a positive in the victory for the 49ers and slowed the Rams down for the majority of the game. With four sacks and an interception return touchdown, they kept the Rams offense in check. A strong performance by linebacker Juwan Foggie led the defense to an impressive night.

The 49ers held the Rams to three of 15 on third down conversions as well as zero for five on fourth down conversions. The Rams were held to nine rushing yards in the night.

Foggie had a 26-yard interception return touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the score 34-10. This was the first pick six of his career and the first defensive touchdown for the 49ers since the 2016 season, which was also made by Foggie.

“This was a stepping stone for the defense for the rest of the defense. We are always looking to get turnovers and we worked on it a lot in the offseason. Hopefully this sets the tone for us,” Foggie said

Rams QB Luke Medlock finished the night with 296 yards and a touchdown pass to WR Austin Longi. Even with the strong QB performance, the Rams were unable to get more than three points on the board in the second half.

After the 1-0 start, the 49ers look ahead to Saturday, Sept. 8 where they will take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Bigger than Football

Juwan Foggie thinks about his next move. Photo by Chris Crews

With the 2018 college football season right around the corner, the Niners are in full preparation mode for game one. They will be hosting Fordham University at Jerry Richardson Stadium and are looking to start the season on a high note.

Before the season begins, we sat down with Charlotte’s senior linebacker, Juwan Foggie, to get to know a little more about the selfless member of the 49ers defense.

When it came to finding his place on the football field, Foggie took some convincing from coaches to make the switch from wide receiver to linebacker. Outside of football, Foggie knows exactly where he belongs. Volunteering in the community is something that Foggie enjoys immensely and he does so simply to put a smile on others faces.

The star linebacker for the 49ers is no stranger to community service. His upbringing has taught him the importance of giving back to the community. Service became a part of his life early on and has stuck with him through life.

“It’s how I was raised, my parents instilled that in me early on and I have carried that with me into college,” Foggie said.

From the YMCA Miracle League to the Levine Children’s Hospital, Foggie has volunteered in all sorts of events throughout the community. He has been nominated for the 2018 AFCA Allstate Goodworks Team and has also been named to the Weurffel Trophy Watch List. Both of these honors commemorate an outstanding commitment to service on the college football level.

As a senior, Foggie knows that his time in college is quickly coming to a conclusion. He has prepared himself for this by considering two options for post graduation from Charlotte which he will be eligible for in Dec. 2018.

“I will try to give the NFL a run for its money and go on that path and if not I am considering going into grad school for Sports Psychology at UNCG (University of North Carolina at Greensboro),” Foggie said.

Football and service are not all that the 49ers linebacker is about. Off the field, he is very down to earth and has similarities to many college students. Being an athlete hasn’t changed his various interests and the hobbies he partakes in during his free time.

“I’m a big movie guy, I like to watch movies as well as T.V. shows. Oh, and I have a dog too, his name is Caillou,” Foggie said.

Foggie has been around Charlotte for some time now and has fallen in love with the campus and all that it has provided him. Being a part of 49ers Football and the Charlotte community has been enjoyable for Foggie in various ways.

“All of the opportunities from off the field and on the field. There are so many different people that you come across which has allowed me to network with so many different people,” Foggie said.

Expectations are high for the senior and rightfully so. Coach Brad Lambert is glad that Foggie decided to make the position switch from wide receiver to linebacker, but does not allow that to be an excuse for not working hard. The linebacker gives it his all on and off the field and the coaching staff recognizes that on a daily basis.

“All of last year, we weren’t sure at this time last year that he was gonna make the move to linebacker and I wasn’t really sure about it. But he excelled and really played well for us and has continued to do that on the field. Off the field he’s as good as you want. We have a lot of guys like that, you could go down the roster and find a lot of guys who do a great job of getting out in the community and doing things outside themselves. That’s a big emphasis for us because every man needs a cause beyond themselves and that’s what we talk to the guys a lot about and Juwan is that lead guy for us,” Lambert said.

After last season’s 1-11 record, a bad taste was left in the mouths of the 49ers. Juwan Foggie does not let the past keep him down for long and he already feels confident in this year’s team. His confidence and optimism towards his teammates and coaches this year resonates with those around him which could be key to the success of the 49ers this upcoming season.

“The energy has been a lot better. Coming off that season we had last year you wouldn’t expect this type of energy from everybody. That’s really big coming from the summer that we had so hopefully that will carry on into the season and we can turn last season around and have a winning season,” Foggie said.

The path to a winning season starts on Sept. 1 as the 49ers kickoff the season in Charlotte at 6 p.m. Foggie and the rest of the 49ers Football program will look to capitalize on a positive off-season and turn things around.

Hithe, Phillips find a common home in Charlotte

Hithe and Phillips celebrate with teammates on the bench. Photo provided by Charlotte Athletics

Charlotte Women’s Basketball has two reasons to be excited for the 2018-2019 season. A young core of players from this season will be returning and will gain a talented veteran presence in the forms of guards Christian Hithe and Jade Phillips. Hithe, a redshirt sophomore, and Phillips, a redshirt junior, had similar ways in which they found their careers crossing paths at Charlotte.

Hithe transferred to Charlotte after a one year stint with the University of Central Florida Women’s Basketball program. Her time there led to gaining some experience but evidently was not the right fit.

“It was a cool experience, but it wasn’t the best fit for me. When I got there I connected with my teammates right off the bat but there was a coaching change and the coaches who had recruited me were no longer with the program. Throughout that year the process of having to adapt to a new coach led to me feeling it would be be best for me to be somewhere where I knew what the coaches were about.” Hithe said.

Phillips transferred to Charlotte after having spent two seasons with Syracuse University. Both seasons with the Orange her team took trips to the NCAA Women’s Tournament, including a National Runner-Up finish her freshman year. This experience has benefited her game and who she is as a player today.

“I definitely learned a lot that year. Even though I wasn’t playing much, I realized that it takes a lot of focus and dedication to get to that spot. It takes a lot of consistency as well because when you’re playing at that level you are playing with higher level competition. You have to come ready to play and be focused and have that mentality on and off the court to get to that level and avoid distractions.” Phillips said.

After having played high school basketball in South Carolina, Hithe played in Florida and is now going to play for Charlotte. Traveling is nothing new for Hithe as she had done so for USA select teams when she was younger.

“It’s a really cool experience to be able to travel where I have been. Being in Florida was nice because the weather was always good and there were palm trees everywhere you look. Having been in South Carolina and now North Carolina is not too different but regardless of where you go, basketball is basketball. I even played overseas in Austria on a USA select team and that was very cool as well.” Hithe said.

Like Hithe, Phillips is also a trailblazer of sorts. Her high school basketball was played in Raleigh, NC and from there she signed with Syracuse which is located in New York. Although she was glad to get out of her comfort zone for two years, Phillips is happy to be back in North Carolina with Charlotte.

“It was a good experience for me because I had never been outside of the state. A big reason I picked Syracuse was to go to New York because I had always been in North Carolina. I got to see the difference in people and their style of play up there in Syracuse and it was a different experience but I enjoyed it and all of the experience that came with it. There is no place like home and me coming back home made me humble myself and be grateful that I get to be around my family and other people I know and it makes me feel more comfortable.” Phillips said.

The process of Hithe deciding to transfer to Charlotte all started when she was still in high school. Even after having decided to go to UCF, Charlotte was on her radar and Coach Consuegra had congratulated her on the decision. This kind gesture resonated with Hithe and made her decision to transfer to UNC Charlotte easy.

“Coach Cara and the coaching staff recruited me out of high school but I chose to go to UCF. Throughout the whole recruiting process, even after I committed to UCF they called me and congratulated me. They remained loyal even after I hadn’t chose Charlotte and loyalty is really huge to me so that was the icing on the cake and I know what she is about. I know the offense they like to run and just seeing Coach Cara is like seeing my own mom. I know I can talk to her about anything and she will still get on me about things but at the end of the day I know she loves me as if I were her own child.” Hithe said.

In similar fashion, Phillips was also recruited by Charlotte out of high school. Even though she initially decided to go out-of-state and play for Syracuse, the impact that the Charlotte coaching staff had on her played a huge role in leading her back to North Carolina to play for  Charlotte.

“Even when I was getting recruited by Syracuse, Charlotte was always there. I had initially picked Syracuse because that was ACC competition and that was the conference I was looking to be in. But I came back to UNC Charlotte because Coach Cara stuck with me even when I committed to Syracuse. That’s what made it feel right for me when I decided to transfer here.” Phillips said.

Hithe feels that she is a strong defensive player that can bring a lot of energy to this program. Having the opportunity to play under a coaching staff she is comfortable with will have a positive impact on her game and will be a key for next season. Although she has had to sit out this year due to NCAA regulations on transfers, she still feels she has been able to have an impact.

“So far this season I feel that I have brought a different energy and a different mindset from previous teams. Next year I feel I will really be able to implement that mindset and really demonstrate what it means to have a good work ethic and consistently show that hard work does pay off. I feel that on defense I will be able to bring a tremendous amount of energy and a mindset of actually wanting to play defense instead of just having to play defense.” Hithe said.

Phillips is more of an offensive minded guard who feels that her versatile skill set will be able to mesh well with what the team is looking to do on offense. She also is a solid rebounder for the guard position and feels that will be a good strength to provide the team with.

“I feel like I bring my athleticism by going for the boards. I can shoot, crash, drive, and attack which makes me a very versatile player and I feel that will help the team get wins next year and I will do what I have to do.” Phillips said.

The transfer stories of both Christian Hithe and Jade Phillips follow a very similar path and it will be exciting to see what they can bring to the program. With Hithe being a leader on defense and Phillips being a key play-maker on offense, Charlotte Women’s Basketball has a lot to look forward to for next season. The stories of both of these players goes to show the power of a first impression.

Work to be done for 49ers Football

Benny Lemay avoids the tackle against MTSU. By Chris Crews.

The college football regular season is coming to a close in 2017. Some teams will be continuing their season through bowl games or the College Football Playoffs. Teams that failed to win six or more games this year are officially done.

Charlotte football finished with a 1-11 record after a loss to Florida Atlantic University (9-3) to conclude their 2017 season. Although there were some bright spots, the program has their work cut out for them if they want to improve. The 49ers struggled on all sides of the ball which was the main factor for an underwhelming 2017 season.

The 49ers lone win this season came on Homecoming week against the bowl eligible UAB. After the Blazers went ahead 17-0 with 10:25 left in the third quarter, the 49ers scored 17 straight points to close out regulation.

Tied at 17, the game went into overtime and UAB was able to score the first touchdown and make the extra point. Charlotte then got the ball and Quarterback Hassan Klugh ran the ball in to the end zone to make the score 24-23. 49ers Head coach Brad Lambert opted to go for the two-point conversion for the final play of the game. Klugh caught a pass on a trick play in the end zone and the 49ers completed the comeback victory.

In terms of points for and points against, Charlotte ranked nearly dead last in the nation for both categories. The offense struggled due to a lack of identity. No true playmakers emerged and the team was unable to get points on the board.

Klugh struggled during his first full season as the starter. He posted 2,061 all purpose yards for the 49ers to go along with 19 total touchdowns. His problem was in the turnover area where he threw 13 interceptions.

Klugh was unable to develop chemistry with any of his receivers throughout the year. The 49ers top three receivers barely eclipsed 1,000 yards and only recorded 5 touchdowns. During the offseason, Klugh will need to work with his receivers for next season to develop rapport and be on the same page. This would likely increase the amount of touchdowns and decrease the amount of turnovers in 2018.

Sophomore running back Benny LeMay was a bright spot for the offense this season. LeMay finished with 820 all purpose yards and four total touchdowns in 2017. He was able to establish himself as the 49ers top option in the backfield and will look to improve on his solid performance from this season.

The 49ers defense was also a weak spot during 2017. The defense failed to perform at a high level, especially when playing without senior Karrington King towards the end of the year. The defensive stats this season showed that the need to force more turnovers and uncomfortable situations for opposing offenses is a must.

Charlotte was able to force only 11 sacks combined and record 11 takeaways. This allowed for opposing offenses to have more time with the ball throughout games and more opportunities to score. The 49ers will look to recruit some defensive playmakers for any position because they will need to record stats in order to be competitive in Conference USA.

King was the heart of the 49ers defense and after starting out his career as a walk on, he earned himself a scholarship. As a departing senior, Charlotte will need to find another player to emerge as a leader on the defense. King’s presence will be missed by the 49ers in the upcoming season.

Charlotte also had their struggles on special teams. The 49ers kicking unit comprised of Nigel Macauley, Jackson Vansickle, and Kyle Corbett had a poor season. Overall, the group finished with four field goals made out of 11 attempts. The need for a solid primary kicker is necessary for the 49ers going ahead in the future.

No kicker was able to make a field goal from 40 yards or farther on the season. This led to more 4th down attempts for the offense in situations they could have otherwise been able to record three points on. Kicker can sometimes be an under appreciated position in football but the 49ers were lacking in their kicking game in 2017.

To put it all in perspective, the 49ers football program is still in its infancy and has a long way to go. This was their third season competing in FBS of Division 1 football. As the program continues to develop, the team will start to click in the future and begin to build a name for itself. There were various low points to the 2017 season, but the 49ers can use these to their advantage to help prepare for success in the near future.

Niners drop emotional final regular season game to FAU

Janell Sparks goes up for the kill. By Pooja Pasupula.

It was an emotional day at the Halton Arena on Nov. 11 as three seniors (Janell Sparks, Tatyana Thomas, Kaylyn Torain) played in their final home game. The Niners (19-11, 6-8) took on the Florida Atlantic Owls (18-8, 9-5) in a morning match to end the regular season.

Charlotte constantly gave up early leads to FAU which led to a 3-0 sweep in sets. The first set proved to be the most competitive as their were 17 ties and four lead changes. FAU eventually pulled out the first set with a score of 25-23.

Although this match did not go the way Coach Karen Weatherington had hoped, she had some strong words of praise for her seniors.

“It’s hard not talking about them without getting emotional. They had all come in here and had faith in what we were doing as a coaching staff… I credit all that they have done to turn this program around in terms of their leadership, to their physical play, to their talent, and to their mental strengths. We’ve been really proud to have them and it will be a tough loss but they’re leaving so much behind by showing the rest of our players what leadership looks like,” Weatherington said.

Sparks put on a strong performance in her last regular season game as she led the Niners in kills with 11. Sydney Rowan and Alex Boone also contributed with seven kills each.

Libero Yumi Garcia added 11 digs to her Charlotte all -time record set on the team’s previous three game road trip. Charlotte stuck to their strengths as a team and led the game in total blocks but early deficits were a large reason they were unable to win the match.

The 49ers Volleyball season is not over yet. They will travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky on Nov. 17 to compete in the Conference USA tournament. The winner of this tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Charlotte will be coming in as the seventh seed in the tournament but that does not stop Coach Weatherington from having high hopes for the Niners.

“We are gonna go in there and give it our best. Women’s Soccer set the tone that it doesn’t matter what seed you come in, you just gotta come out swinging,” Weatherington said.

The Niners will look to make some noise in the C-USA tournament and continue their season before beginning to prepare for next year. Charlotte will be returning all but three players from this season and will look to be competitive for 2018.

Digging for gold

Yumi Garcia preparing to make a stand on defense. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

From Brazil, to Bethel University and finally the 49ers Volleyball team, Yumi Garcia has had a major impact on those around her on and off the court. Coming from a different country has not stopped Garcia one bit.

“Yumi moved away from home to play volleyball when she was 16 and that helped show just how mature she is,” Head Coach Karen Weatherington said.

Her journey that has now led to Charlotte has been an eventful one, and it all started not too long ago.

“I decided to play volleyball when I was 10 years old. I started out as a setter and switched to the libero position when I was 15. Playing in Brazil is not too different than playing here other than the fact that the people here are much taller. I enjoy playing in Brazil and here equally,” Garcia said.

Garcia has been playing her current position for only five years. Most people do not start playing a position in a sport so late and end up having success, but she is clearly not like most people in that regard. Her talent and passion for the game got her involved with the Brazilian national team after being named the best Parana’s High School best Libero for U-16 in 2012 and for U-18 in 2014. Garcia’s collegiate volleyball career began with Bethel University in Tennessee during the 2016-2017 season. After putting up team best number’s for digs with 554, she knew she wanted to play in higher competition than the NAIA.

“One of my best player’s during my coaching days in the MEAC was from Brazil and hinted me towards Yumi and told me she felt that she was playing at a school [Bethel] that was a little under the level in which she wanted to compete,” Weatherington said.

These words from Coach Weatherington explain the early recruiting process of Garcia to Charlotte. Weatherington continued to tell the story of how a recruiting email she received from her featured a video of her playing with men from the Brazilian national team.

“I saw her getting digs on one of the guys who was probably one of their better players and she walked around the court like it was no big deal,” Weatherington said.

Garcia’s humble attitude towards the game may lead some to view her as quiet, but all she is doing is letting her game speak for itself.

“I feel like the level of play here at Charlotte is so high that I really improved my skills. I didn’t necessarily learn any new skills but I have just really been improving what I have already been doing,” Garcia said.

When she first visited Charlotte, she instantly felt that this was the right place to continue her playing career. In her first year with the 49ers volleyball team, Garcia is showing that her game has adjusted quite nicely to the NCAA level. That one visit was all it took for her to realize that she would fit right in with the program and be able to contribute immediately.

“I knew I wanted to play in a Division 1 school but when I got here, I got to meet all of the girls and play with them and meet all the coaches and I was like, this is my place,” Garcia said.

Early in the season, each player wrote a personal goal for this year. Garcia set the bar high for herself, to break the 49ers record for digs in a single season. Back when she wrote it, it was just simply a goal written on paper. Now, that goal is within reach, and it is very possible that Yumi will accomplish this feat.

“When I first decided I wanted to break the record, I thought it would be really cool. Right now I am really excited because I am really close,” Garcia said.

With four games left to play in the regular season, Yumi is just 35 digs off of setting the new program record that has stood for nine seasons. Her playing career so far with the 49ers has been outstanding, but Weatherington is even more impressed with her impact off of the court.

“She’s a special special person… she is a very selfless and giving player. She makes everyone laugh and she’s a kid walking into a situation sight unseen when she first came to Charlotte. She’s that unique player that goes to ask for help and will constantly give help. Yumi would rather show with actions than words that she is gonna come through for you and puts a lot of extra effort into everything she does,” Weatherington said.

High praise for Garcia’s impact on the team so far this season is well deserved. In a matter of a year, the 49ers volleyball team has gone from having a losing 7-23 season last year to competing for a spot in the Conference USA tournament. Garcia’s effect on the team this season can not only be seen in her performance, but the way she makes her teammates feel around her. The team is always laughing and smiling in her presence which goes to show that her heart is one of the most important features to the team.

49ers Volleyball has their final home game of the season on Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. If it has not happened already on the team’s upcoming three game road trip, expect Garcia to shatter the team’s digs record in the final regular season game against the Florida Atlantic Owls.

Niners team effort keeps C-USA tournament chances alive

Charlotte Volleyball celebrates after a point. By Pooja Pasupula

With only four games left in the regular season, the Niners find themselves close to a Conference USA tournament bid. On Nov. 3, Charlotte traveled to Louisiana Tech (7-19, 2-10 C-USA) to take on the Bulldogs in a night time game. Charlotte took down the Bulldogs easily in three sets behind a strong team effort.

Niners Volleyball swept the three sets by scores of 25-19, 25-11, and 25-20. Various players made contributions in the win including Janell Sparks, Tatyana Thomas, and Yumi Garcia.

Sparks led all players with 14 kills to go along with three blocks. After an 11-11 tie was broken up by Thomas in the first set, Sparks ensured that the game was never in question with her dominating offensive performance.

Thomas was a force in front of the net with six blocks accompanied by nine kills of her own. She accounted for half of the Niners 12 total blocks which were a huge factor in the victory. Thomas posted a hitting percentage of .475 as she was one of six players to hit better than .375.

Garcia held it down on the defensive end of the game per usual. Her 16 digs in the matchup with the Bulldogs was tied for the best from all players. Garcia has now put herself 19 digs away from breaking the Charlotte school record that has stood for nine years.

The Niners led all but one statistical category of the game over L.A. Tech. Aside from aces, Charlotte held a huge advantage in blocks and kills in the game. With 50 kills and 12 blocks, that was better than L.A. Tech’s numbers by 13 and 10 respectively.

Charlotte Volleyball will be playing two more games on the road before returning to the Halton Arena on Nov. 11 to take on Florida Atlantic University. The Niners next three games will have C-USA tournament implications and they will look to take care of business.

Sparks career high not enough, 49ers fall to FAU

Sparks finished the match with a career high 25 kills. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor

Charlotte Volleyball (15-5, 2-2) traveled to Florida Atlantic University (10-5, 1-2) to play in their fourth Conference USA match of the season on Oct. 1.

49ers Senior Janell Sparks had a personal best in kills with 25, but the team was unable to get the road victory against the Owls dropping the match 1-3. As a team, the 49ers dominated the blocks category again as they led the Owls 13-7.

The first set started off they way the 49ers wanted. After the set got tied up at 23, Sparks had two straight kills coming out of a timeout to put Charlotte up 1-0 in sets. After the first set, FAU was able to gain momentum and never looked back.

Charlotte held a 17-14 lead in the second set, but the Owls rallied back and were able to even the match with a 25-23 set win. The momentum from the second set comeback led to a dominant third set won by the Owls by a score of 25-15.

Trailing 1-2 in the match, Charlotte gave FAU a close fourth set that saw them down 24-20 before making the score even at 24-24. The Owls were able to fend off the 49ers comeback effort and end the set at 26-24 and claim the match victory.

Head coach Karen Weatherington views the loss as a learning experience for the team.

“The key takeaway from today is we recognized the grind of C-USA and know we must prepare for battle every day,” Weatherington said.

Charlotte’s next match will be played on Oct. 6 when the 49ers host C-USA opponent UTEP (4-12, 1-2) in the Halton Arena at 6 p.m. The 49ers will look to gain their third C-USA win of the season.

Special teams errors haunt 49ers: FIU gets comeback win at home

Charlotte Football flew down to Miami, Florida to play their first Conference USA game of the season against Florida International University Saturday night. Coming off the program’s first ever shutout loss, the 49ers were looking to grab their first win of the season.

After a dominant first half which featured four touchdowns by Charlotte quarterback Hassan Klugh (262 total yards, four total touchdowns), the team was unable to reach the end zone again during the game.

The 49ers (0-5, 0-1 C-USA) held a 26-14 lead going into the half over FIU but the Panthers (3-1, 2-0 C-USA) made halftime adjustments and were able to complete the comeback victory by a score of 30-29.

Charlotte made various errors on special teams which ended up being a key reason for the loss. After a three-yard rushing touchdown by Klugh led to an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter, the 49ers failed to complete a two-point conversion attempt.

Quarterback Hassan Klugh had four total touchdowns (three rushing) against FIU. Photo by Chris Crews

Mistakes were made again in the first quarter when kicker Jackson VanSickle missed on a PAT attempt following a three yard touchdown pass from Klugh to running back Benny Lemay (22 carries, 178 yards).

VanSickle made a 39 yard field goal following an interception by Juwan Foggie on FIU’s first drive of the second half to give the 49ers a 29-14 lead early in the third quarter.

FIU quarterback Alex McGough (252 total yards, three total touchdowns) led three straight scoring drives during the second half following the interception. Panthers kicker Jose Borregales kicked a 27-yard field goal to take the 30-29 lead over Charlotte.

On the last play of the game and trailing 30-29, Nigel McCauley had the chance to kick a game winning field goal from 49 yards out. The field goal attempt was no good, leading to Charlotte’s fifth loss of the season.

For the first time this season, Charlotte had zero turnovers in the contest and led every team statistical category (504 total yards, 23 first downs, 33:27 time of possession) but were still unable to finish with a win.

LeMay had his second 100+ yard rushing game of the season and continues to be the leader of the backfield. No receivers surpassed 40 yards in the contest and the passing game continues to be an area of concern for the 49ers offense.

Although Charlotte’s defense was able to force an interception, they were unable to record a sack and could not stop the Panthers offense after going up 29-14 in the third quarter.

Both sides of the ball started well in the first half for the first time this season, but they will need to be able to close out games as well if the 49ers are going to start winning.

49er football returns to Charlotte and hosts C-USA opponent Marshall (3-1) in their third home game of the season at Jerry Richardson Stadium on Oct. 7 at 6:00 p.m.

49ers Volleyball 11 game win streak ends, fall to WKU

#7 Sydney Rowan goes up for the kill against C-USA opponent Marshall University

Charlotte’s 11-game win streak was ended on Sept. 24 after falling to Western Kentucky in three sets.

Both teams headed into the game with 14 wins and each had a victory against a conference opponent. The 49ers played hard against a team they have not defeated in three years, but were again unable to get the victory as they lost 3-0 in sets.

Charlotte had an 11 game win streak but WKU put on an offensive clinic and was able to end it. The Hilltoppers had three players each with double digit kills. WKU’s Rachel Anderson led the kills category in the game with 20 and had a .545 hitting percentage.

49ers Head Coach Karen Weatherington feels that in order for the team to compete against the rest of their C-USA schedule, strong defense is the key.

“We really need to focus on our defense. If we can set the block and play strong defense, the rest of our game will follow,” Weatherington said.

Charlotte was able to compete with the Hilltoppers in the beginning of each set, but WKU pulled away in all three to hold off the 49ers and earn the win. The first set was won by a score of 25-15, the last two were won by a closer score of 25-20.

49ers Freshman Sydney Rowan had an impressive game in the loss. Rowan led the team with 9 kills along with a total of 24 of 25 successful serve receive attempts.

Next up 49ers will travel to Birmingham, Alabama to take on C-USA opponent UAB on Sept. 29. Charlotte will look to continue their success from the first half of the season and build upon their 14-4 overall record (1-1 C-USA).

49ers Football struggling early in 2017

Charlotte defenders take down an FIU player last season. NT File Photo

With the first two weeks of college football complete, the Charlotte 49ers hold an 0-2 record and the team has struggled to find a rhythm on offense and defense.

The first week of the season saw the 49ers travel to Eastern Michigan to take on the Eagles. Quarterback Hassan Klugh flashed his dual-threat potential with 114 passing yards and 101 rushing yards, but the team was only able to find the end zone once on the night in a 24-7 loss.

Klugh through a pass directly to Eastern Michigan cornerback Brody Hoying leading to an interception returned for a touchdown. Charlotte had a total of three interceptions in the game including wide receiver Chris Montgomery throwing for one on a trick play attempt.

Aside from Klugh, the team had no other player surpass 50 rushing yards in the game. No receivers were able to reach 50 yards either as Trent Bostick led the group with 34 yards and one touchdown reception.

Charlotte went 5-16 on third down conversions in the game which was one of the main reasons the team was unable to drive the ball down field. They were also unsuccessful on their only fourth down conversion attempt.

49ers defense saw success in this game as they only allowed 17 points for the Eagles offense and were able to force an interception and fumble.

Cornerback Ed Rolle was able to pick off the experienced Eagles quarterback, Brogan Roback. Linebacker Juwan Foggie was able to force and recover a fumble from the Eagles wide receiver, Antoine Porter, on the first drive of the game.

The Charlotte defense kept the game from getting out of hand and made plays to get extra possessions for the offense. The offense was unable to produce scoring drives which led to the 24-7 final score.

Eastern Michigan’s offense had 393 yards of offense in 33:03 minutes of possession in the game while Charlotte had 280 yards in 26:57.

On September 9, the 49ers traveled to #19 overall Kansas State looking to improve their play from the previous week. The Wildcats routed the 49ers on their home field in a 55-7 blowout.
The efficiency of the 49ers was again a problem, this time on both offense and defense. Quarterbacks Klugh and Brooks Barden combined for 58 total passing yards in the game against K-State and each had an interception.

Klugh threw his second pick-six of the season and will look to stop this streak if the team is going to compete within Conference USA this season.

The team again struggled in the run game as they rushed for 110 total yards between five players, Klugh leading the way with 33. Kansas State was able to contain Klugh in the pocket better than Eastern Michigan as he averaged 3.3 yards over his 10 total carries.

Charlotte was only able to reach the end zone once for the second straight week as Klugh hurdled over a Kansas State defender for his first rushing touchdown in 2017. This play came after a 66 yard kick return by running back Aaron Mcallister.

The offense struggled on third downs again as they were 4-15 in the game. Drives were not sustained in this game leading to only 168 total yards of offense in 23:54 minutes of possession.

Kansas State caused problems for the 49ers defense as they exploded for 55 points, 38 in the first half and had few problems moving the football. The Wildcats rarely had third down situations and were 4-9 for the entire game.

Charlotte allowed five offensive touchdowns, all of which came off of runs from five different players. Wildcats running back Alex Barnes carved the 49ers defense for 99 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown.

Although the 49ers allowed only 189 passing yards to Wildcats quarterback Jesse Ertz, they gave up 303 total rushing yards and 493 total yards of offense in 36:06 time of possession for K-State.

The 49ers defense was unable to force any turnovers in this game which allowed for the Wildcats to keep their offensive drives alive for the majority of the game and run up the score.

Through two games this season, Charlotte’s offense has a total of 448 yards and two touchdowns. Third down conversions need to be a point of emphasis for head coach Brad Lambert as the team is currently 9-31.

The 49ers offense also has six total turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns. They will need to get this number under control in order to keep opposing teams from getting extra possessions and points.

Charlotte defense has allowed 79 total points, all of which came from rushing touchdowns and field goals. 886 total yards of offense have been given up to their two opponents on the road which has contributed to the high point differential.

Next week, The 49ers return to Jerry Richardson Stadium to play their first home game of the season and will look to get back on track against NC A&T. This will be the first ever game played between these two in-state opponents.

Klugh is in his first year as the full time starting quarterback for the 49ers and has the potential to make plays through his passing and rushing game and will look to do so next week.

The defense will look to emulate their performance from the matchup against Eastern Michigan to allow for the team to be competitive for the rest of the season.

Coach Lambert will address the team’s early struggles in practice this week and prepare to earn their first victory of the season when they host the Aggies.