The 49ers defeated the Winthrop Eagles 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 21-25, 15-10) in a five-set, highly-contested match.
Charlotte got off to a slow start in the first set by allowing the Eagles to go on a 5-1 scoring run. However, the 49ers clawed their way back into the set, trimming the Eagles’ lead to 10-9 and later tying the game at 11-11. Once Charlotte tied the set at 11-11, the Eagles responded by scoring six unanswered points to give Winthrop a decisive lead. During the Eagles 6-0 run, junior outside hitter Nikkia Benitez lifted Winthrop by tallying five kills. Winthrop warded any 49er comeback attempts which gave them a 25-21 first set victory.
The 49ers again found themselves trailing early after a slow start in the second set. However, a balanced 49ers’ offensive attack, led by freshman outside hitter Nalani Lyde and senior middle blocker Jocelyn Stoner, propelled Charlotte to a second set victory. After knotting the score up at 7-7, the 49ers scored seven unanswered points to claim a 14-7 lead. The Eagles trimmed Charlotte’s lead to two down the home stretch, but ultimately the 49ers built a lead too big for the Eagles to overcome. Charlotte took the second set 25-21.
In the third set, everything went Charlotte’s way, as the 49ers were firing on all cylinders on offense and defense. The 49er defense recorded six blocks and allowed only a .070 hitting percentage to the Eagles offense. On offense, Charlotte recorded three service aces and 12 kills. Additionally, the 49ers took advantage of the Eagles’ twelve combined errors to claim a 25-19 third set victory.
Winthrop started fast in the fourth set, claiming an early 10-5 lead behind the solid offensive play of Benitez and early Charlotte errors. The Eagles were able to maintain and often extend their early lead during the fourth set, despite committing more overall fourth-set errors than the 49ers.
Charlotte jumped out to a quick and crucial 9-2 lead behind seven errors committed by the Eagles. Winthrop cleaned their play up, but their efforts were too little and too late as Lyde, Stoner, and Sydney Rowan produce enough kills to seal the 49ers’ victory. Charlotte took the fifth set 15-10.
The 49ers travel to Miami, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 11, to play against conference foe FIU at 7 p.m.