The 49ers defeated Conference USA opponent UAB 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 25-16) to improve to 15-14 overall and 4-8 overall in the C-USA. The victory keeps Charlotte ranked eighth in the conference.
A balanced offensive attack led by Sydney Rowan, Jocelyn Stoner and Molly Shaw, all of whom tallied three kills each, helped fuel the 49ers during the first set. Additionally, the 49ers stayed disciplined, committing only four errors in the first set compared to the Blazers’ 12 first set errors. Charlotte’s regulated, balanced team effort lifted them to a 25-20 victory in the first set.
UAB and Charlotte battled back and forth during the second set as UAB cleaned up their mistakes from the first set by only committing six errors. Rowan propelled the 49ers in the second set with seven kills while Shaw added four kills of her own. Late in the second set, the 49ers had a 21-19 edge. UAB sophomore outside hitter Alex Kells took it upon herself to lift the Blazers by getting three consecutive kills to gain a 22-21 lead. An error by 49ers’ Annika Wetterstrom extended the Blazers lead. Kells had another kill to put the Blazers up 24-21. Charlotte attempted to mount a comeback, but the Blazers were able to ward the attempt en route to a 25-23 second set victory.
In the third set, the Blazers reverted back to their mistake-prone style of play by registering 10 errors. Rowan fueled the 49ers with four kills while Nalani Lyde, Shaw and Stoner each contributed two kills. Additionally, Sofie Perrens had two service aces to help the 49ers to 25-16 third set win.
Errors continued to plague the Blazers in the final set as UAB committed 12 errors. The self-inflict injuries proved to be too much for the Blazers to overcome. Rowan, Stoner and Lana Strejeck guided Charlotte with four, three and two kills, respectively. Rowan also had three service aces to lift the 49ers to a 25-16 fourth-set win.
Throughout the match, Wetterstrom helped establish an offensive rhythm by facilitating the offense with 37 assists. Strejeck and Lyde anchored the 49ers’ front-row defense by accounting for nine and five blocks, respectively. Yumi Garcia and Taylor Berg led the 49ers’ back-row defense with a combined 53 digs.
The 49ers look to finish the season with wins at home against UTEP on Thursday at 6 p.m. and FAU on Saturday at 1 p.m. in hopes of making the C-USA tournament.