Foster Feature Photo

Charlotte's Emani' Foster.

A month of play in the 2022 season is in the rearview, and Charlotte volleyball’s Emani’ Foster has been top tier statistically. The third-year outside hitter has emerged as one of the top scorers in all of NCAA.

Foster has been sensational for the 49ers in 2022, putting together one of the best seasons Charlotte volleyball has ever seen. She has spent time this season first in both kills and points among all NCAA players. As of Sept. 27, she sits third in kills (280) and fourth in points (313).

On Sept. 25, Foster sat first in kills among all C-USA players, with a 69-kill lead over Western Kentucky’s Paige Briggs. Foster’s success this season has led to her earning C-USA offensive player of the week in weeks one and two. 

“I think it’s crazy,” said Foster. “It’s great to be recognized at such a high level with these other big-name players. It’s great to be out there and have the team backing me because I wouldn’t be able to get that recognition without the team. I just love how I’ve developed as a player and how the team has supported me.”

Early success

Before seeing stardom at Charlotte, Foster made her mark at Vance County High School.

Foster won many awards throughout high school, on and off the court. These consisted of multiple player of the year awards for both offense and defense, Female Athlete of the year and Under Armour watch list. She had all this success while holding down a 4.57 GPA, which led to Foster earning several academic achievements.

By the time she left high school, Foster was the only player in North Carolina high school history to reach 2,000 career kills, finishing with 2,040. She also set state records for kills in a match (57 vs. East Duplin), kills per match (20.04) and kills in a season (649). In addition, she was the first volleyball athlete at Vance County to have their jersey number retired. 

“It was great to get my jersey retired and honestly was a blessing and an honor because nobody had done that before for volleyball,” said Foster. “It was just exciting.”

Adapting to Charlotte

The “family atmosphere” caught Foster’s eye, and it took no time for her to adjust to the college level of play. The quiet girl from Henderson was making noise on the court in her freshman year, leading her team in kills, points and service aces while being top six in C-USA for all three categories.

She earned C-USA Freshman of the year and was a six-time C-USA Freshman of the week. Due to her spectacular first year, she earned C-USA Freshman of the Year, All-conference First Team, All-Freshman Team, C-USA All-Tournament Team and AVCA All-South Region. Furthermore, Foster was the first AVCA National Player of the Week in school history. 

In her second year, Foster missed the last month of the season, going down with an injury in mid-October. Despite missing significant time, she still earned C-USA Second Team by the end of the season.

“I was really upset I was not able to come and contribute with the team, especially when I felt like they needed me to be,” Foster said.

Her growth with the 49ers

Foster feels she has developed significantly since starting at Charlotte, not just in skill but also in the presence she brings to the atmosphere of the team. 

“I definitely feel like I have grown a lot because I was very shy at the beginning,” said Foster. “I barely talked on the court. But now I realized that I have to talk on the court because I am playing six rotations, and it definitely helps the team with cohesiveness just having me out there being a vocal leader as well as a physical leader.”

Teammate fourth-year middle blocker, Amani McArthur, has had the opportunity to see how Foster has grown. McArthur agrees that Foster has seen much growth, especially coming out of her shell on the court.

“I think she has had a lot of growth personality-wise,” said McArthur 

“She was pretty shy coming here. But she has so much power with such a small voice, but I feel like once she got comfortable playing at this level and being a very significant player on our team has really brought more of that on-court personality and that voice out of her.”

Foster’s soft-spoken nature stands out to her teammates and anyone she interacts with but is not reflected in how she plays. Volleyball head coach Karen Weatherington spoke on why she thinks these opposites reside in the same person: 

“I think what goes into that is that she’s a quintessential learner. She’s always been one that is quiet and listens and hears and does the hard work in the background. She won’t let anyone outwork her, sometimes to her detriment, but she does all of the things right. It takes a concerted effort to be an elite athlete,” said Weatherington.

After three straight sweeps, Foster and the 49ers continue conference action as they seek to retain the success the team saw at the beginning of the season.