The Charlotte 49ers volleyball team gets back on track by sweeping the Florida Atlantic Owls in a two-game series over the weekend. The team snaps their four-game losing streak with two crucial conference victories.
In the first game, the 49ers took down the Owls 3-0 and staged a comeback to take the second game 3-1. The two wins improve Charlotte's record to 9-7 on the season and 2-2 in conference play. The team had a strong showing in front of the home crowd for the first time since Saturday, Aug. 28.
"What a crowd," said Head Coach Karen Weatherington. "That energy from the crowd willed us to elevate our level and play that great volleyball that we've been putting out there. We also executed what we needed to do to win, and it was nice to pull these wins out at home."
Charlotte fired on all cylinders and took the momentum to start the first set. The 49ers began the match on a 7-0 run before extending their lead to 13-3 to continue to control the set. The Owls fought their way back, but the 49ers thwarted the attack and took set one 25-13.
The second set saw both teams get out to a fast start. They tied at seven before the Niners went on a nine-point run to gain control. The rest of the set was fairly even, but once again, Charlotte took it 25-17.
Both teams went back and forth to start with the score standing at 7-6. The 49ers went on a 5-0 and 6-0 run to finish the game strong, taking the third set 25-11.
Sophomore Emani' Foster led the team with kills with 18 in the contest, while junior Annika Wetterstrom had 29 assists. Sophomore Sophie Whalen led the team in digs with 18.
"Defense was our focus all week. It definitely translated with 57 digs and six blocks in a three-set match which is just crazy. We wanted to focus on being more fluid on our defense. Sophie has really taken charge and ownership to do things on that back row. We had a lot of emphasis on our opposite-court defense, and those guys locked it down this week as well. I was really impressed with our 57 digs; that's just incredible." said Weatherington.
Charlotte came out rather sluggish in the second game of the weekend. In the first set, the Owls held an early 10-7 before the 49ers went on a run to take a 14-10. However, the team could not hold on as the Owls fought back with multiple runs to take the set 25-21.
Charlotte fired back in the second set, gaining the advantage and taking it 25-17. Foster and fifth-year senior Sydney Rowan led the team with stellar play to win and even the game up at apiece.
Florida Atlantic had a strong start in set three, taking an early 16-7 lead. Charlotte ramped up the intensity by going on a 15-5 run to regain the lead 22-21. The rest of the set was neck and neck, but Charlotte took the victory 25-23.
The fourth set was a stalemate, with both teams trying to gain the advantage. The 49ers held a 14-12 lead before pulling away with a 5-0 run. The Niners took the fourth set, 25-18, to win the game.
"It's not about how you start; it's how you finish," said Weatherington. "A lot of it is about how you play. I thought we elevated our level mentally. We knew they were going to come out and attack. We've been about mental toughness, and it started when we were on the road last weekend. We weren't going down without a fight. I'm proud of them."
Annika Wetterstrom had 39 assists in an outstanding performance. In addition, the duo of Rowan and Foster packed a powerful punch combining for 37 kills.
The 49ers hit the road again and will head to Norfolk, Virginia, to face the Old Dominion Monarchs in a pair of C-USA matches. The two games will be on Friday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 9, with both scheduled to start at 6 p.m..