Charlotte defeated conference-opponent Southern Miss 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-22). The win gave the 49ers their second conference victory of the season and snapped their three-game losing streak.
“Today was really exciting. Southern Miss took UTSA to five on Friday, so we knew that they were starting to click,” said Charlotte Head Coach Karen Weatherington. “They have a lot of new personnel on their staff, and their record doesn’t indicate the type of scrappy defensive team they are, so we knew we had to stick with our game plan and really carry over [our] good play from Friday.”
The Charlotte front row combinations of Sydney Rowan, Lana Strejcek and Amani McArthur along with Nalani Lyde and Jocelyn Stoner gave the Golden Eagles trouble during the first set. Early in the first when tied 3-3, the 49er front row forced three consecutive blocks two claim a 6-3 lead. The 49ers then extended their lead to 9-5, forcing Southern Miss Head Coach Stephanie Radecki to burn an early timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Golden Eagles scored five unanswered points to claim a 10-9 lead. Charlotte and Southern Miss continued to exchange blows until Charlotte took a late 17-14 lead, forcing another Golden Eagles’ timeout. Charlotte picked up right where they left off out of the timeout by closing the set on a 7-3 to seal a 25-17 first set victory.
Lyde and Rowan fueled the 49ers’ offensive attack to an 11-8 early lead in the second set with six total kills. The deficit forced another Southern Miss timeout. However, the Golden Eagles committed six errors after the timeout and Lyde registered a kill, to give the 49ers a decisive 17-9 lead. Stoner tallied four straight kills to extend the 49ers’ lead to 22-9. With a 13-point lead, Charlotte coasted to a 25-12 second set victory.
Southern Miss claimed a 5-4 lead in the third set. The Golden Eagles maintained and extended their lead to 16-11, forcing Weatherington to call a timeout.
“We lost a little bit of focus there [in the third set],” said Weatherington.
After the timeout, the 49ers slowly chipped away at the Golden Eagles’ lead until they tied the set at 18-18. Southern Miss kept their lead until the 49ers’ tied the score at 22-22. Lyde recorded two-consecutive kills to give the 49ers a 24-22 lead. The Golden Eagles committed an attack error the next play and gave the 49ers a 25-22 third set victory.
At the end of the match, Lyde, Rowan and Stoner each recorded 12, 11, and 9 kills, respectively. Annika Wettersom had 33 assists and Yumi Garcia tallied 21 digs.
“Taylor Berg, Sofie [Perrens], Yumi [Garcia] and Sydney [Rowan] are doing some amazing things in the backcourt that were going to really call on them,” said Weatherington. “They’ve been trying to give us that all year long, but today they turned the corner and they want to lead this team into the tournament.”
Before the 49ers’ next match, Weatherington wants to see improved serve and pass game.
“We have to win the serve and pass game,” said Weatherington. “We have to be aggressive from the service...and then handle our passing [well].”
The 49ers host North Carolina Central on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m.