The 49ers lost to North Texas 3-0 (13-25, 17-25, 25-27) in their annual Dig Pink match which helps raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. The loss moves the 49ers to 1-5 in conference play and extends their losing streak to three games.
“It reminds us that this is just a game and that there are people fighting bigger battles and playing bigger matches than we ever have to play,” said Charlotte Head Coach Karen Weatherington. “The game is bigger than just the game.”
The "Mean Green" started the first set by gaining an early 8-3 lead behind several Charlotte errors and an aggressive balanced hitting attack from Rhett Robinson, Miranda Youmans and Valerie Valerian. The 49ers were able to trim the North Texas five-point lead twice before Alysha Johnson, Youmans and Valerian recorded two kills each en route to the "Mean Green" going on an 11-4 scoring run and extending their lead to 21-9. Charlotte attempted to assemble a comeback run; however, the "Mean Green" had built a lead too significant for the 49ers to overcome as North Texas took the first set 25-13.
In the second set, the 49ers and Mean Green fought back and forth without either team being able to build a sustainable advantage until late in the set. Charlotte’s junior outside hitter, Sydney Rowan, kept the 49ers afloat with six early kills while North Texas’ Valerie Valerian equaled Rowan’s kill count. However, the "Mean Green’s" supporting cast of Barbara Teakell, Johnson and Robinson elevated North Texas by each recording three early kills to complement Valerian’s performance. North Texas used their offensive attack to extend their 14-12 lead to 21-14 late in the second set. The Mean Green were able to ward off any comeback attempts from the 49ers, giving North Texas a 25-17 second set victory.
Rowan continued to fuel the 49ers offense in the third set, registering four of Charlotte’s kills up to the ten-point mark. Additionally, the "Mean Green" committed six errors before the ten-point mark to couple Rowan’s four kills. The 49er defense continued to force the "Mean Green" to commit errors, which helped Charlotte build a 13-9 lead. However, Valerian and Robinson guided the "Mean Green" back into contention and tied the set 15-15. From that point forward, the game stayed close as neither team was able to build more than a two-point advantage. With the game tied at 25-25, Charlotte committed an error to give the "Mean Green" a one-point advantage. Teakell sealed the set with a kill to lift the "Mean Green" over the 49ers with a 27-25 set victory.
“We had some moments when our inexperience came out,” said Weatherington. “We knew North Texas was tough...and our defense played well but offensively we were just chugging along, and we probably need more fire.”
The 49ers’ next matchup is Sunday, Oct. 20 at home against Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Weatherington believes the quick turnaround will help the 49ers find success against the Golden Eagles.
“We need to [move on],” said Weatherington. “This conference is a slugfest so you have to play the game in front of you, hit the control-alt-delete button, and start all over the next day. The sun will come up, and we’ll keep playing volleyball.”