CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte volleyball team opened up its 2014 season with a pair of mid-match come backs that led to a pair of victories in day one of the Charlotte Invitational. The Niners stormed back to take a 3-1 win over Morgan State before erasing a huge second set deficit against UNCG to sweep the Spartans 3-0. The 49ers ended the day as the only unbeaten team after day one’s festivities.
CHARLOTTE 3, MORGAN STATE 1
Charlotte turned the tide in set one after back-to-back errors found themselves down 12-10 against the Bears. A pair of Morgan State errors and kills by Semen Sen and Irem Asci put the Niners up 15-12 on their 5-0 run forcing a Bears timeout. Sen and Asci would add two more kills later in the set while an eventual ace from Britney Leigh Held pushed the lead out to 21-17. Savannah Gaster and Laura Cantrell kills would get the Niners within two of the win as Gaster and Asci put down the final two kills for a 25-21 opening set win for Charlotte.
Again, a slow start for the Niners in set two found the hosts down 8-3 before bouncing right back to take a 13-12 lead on a Claire Kreuz ace sandwiched in-between kills from Sarah McDonald and Asci. Sen, Gaster and Asci would continue scoring just moments later leading to an 18-14 advantage. Charlotte would maintain a healthy advantage all the way through set two as two more Kreuz kills and an ace from Marshae Bradbury iced a 25-19 set win and 2-0 match lead over the Bears. Charlotte would hit .444 in the second set with just one attacking error in the win.
Down one late in set three, back-to-back kills from Sen would give the Niners a 22-21 lead until two-straight kills by Morgan State’s Zuri Smith put the Bears back up one at 23-22. Two late miscues by the Niners on offense would give the Bears a 25-22 win in set three sending the match to a fourth set.
Down as much as seven with an 11-4 Morgan State advantage, Charlotte again turned on the offense using a 10-point run to take a 15-12 lead at the midway point of the fourth. Sen would serve up three aces in the 10-point stretch while Gaster added two more kills to aid the run. The Niners would hold the lead from their en route to their first win of the season as kills from Britney Leigh Held, Sen and Kreuz secured a 25-21 set win and 3-1 match victory to start the 2014 season. Charlotte posted a .333 hitting percentage in the final set to end at .255 overall.
“We played ok in the first two sets, struggled in the third, was down big in the fourth until a good comeback by our girls,” remarked Head Coach Gokhan Yilmaz post-match. “We did a good job of serving and playing defense in that fourth set to get the win which is a big confidence boost for us.”
Asci posted a match-high 14 kills for the Niners while adding 10 digs on defense for the double-double. Sen led all hitters percentage wise hitting .526 with her 13 kills. Held picked up 43 assists in the victory while also adding five kills to hit .444 from the setter position. Kreuz would finish a kill shy of double-digits while posting her .333 mark in the opening match. Defensively, libero Shelby Green popped up 14 digs while Held added 11. Gaster and Sen would each record solos in the blocking department a part of a six total block outing for the Niners.
CHARLOTTE 3, UNCG 0
Set one went back-and-forth to start in a thrilling opener until a UNCG error and kill from Gaster put the Niners up 19-17 late in the set. A pair of Jessica Brezwyn kills would keep the Spartans around two points later but an ace from Green and final kill by Sen clinched a 25-21 set one victory for the Niners.
UNCG took control early of set two and carried as much as a 19-13 lead late, before Charlotte made their largest comeback of the night. Gaster and Asci got the stretch started with back-to-back kills before three-straight UNCG errors aided the hosts to get within one at 19-18. After a UNCG kill from Ashley Muench and ace from Kelsey Sidney, the Spartans had a three-point cushion at 21-18. Another one of Asci’s 11 kills in the nightcap kept the Niners lurking until Kreuz tied it 23-23 with her third kill in set two, put the Niners up 24-23 after her fourth on the next play allowing for Held to drop down her second kill of the match to complete the comeback 25-23.
Charlotte carried that momentum over into the third taking a 16-10 lead on Held’s final kill of the night to find themselves up six. UNCG would then mount their own rally tying the match at 24-24 using four-straight errors by the Niners. To finish off the set and sweep, it was the duo of Asci and Sen putting down the night’s final two kills for a 26-24 set and 3-0 match win over the Spartans.
Asci and Sen each led Charlotte with 11 kills against UNCG. Held dished out 33 more assists while Green and Barker added 13 digs apiece on defense.
“They beat us easily in the spring when we played them,” continued Yilmaz. “We are trying to get our passes more consistent and I’m pleased with our middles being an offensive option which made a big difference in our comeback. I’m very pleased with ending the day with two wins, it’s definitely a big plus for our program.”
The Niners will be right back in action on Saturday afternoon with two more matches to help close out the 2014 Charlotte Invitational. ETSU out of the Southern Conference will be first up for the Niners at 12:00 p.m. followed by the Big Sky’s Sacramento State at 7:00 p.m.