Charlotte and Temple played the tightest match of the season Saturday night, with the host Owls taking the first set and the 49ers rallying to a 3-1 victory (21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-23) in at McGonigle Hall in Atlantic 10 Conference action. The match featured 37 tie scores and 14 lead changes, with the six-point margin of victory in the second set by Charlotte the largest lead of the night.
After dropping the first six league matches of the season, Charlotte has won three in a row and is one game out of the sixth and final A-10 Tournament spot with three weeks to go in the regular season. The 49ers are 9-12 on the year, 3-6 in the A-10. Temple slips to 6-16, 2-7 in league play.
"It was a great match," said Charlotte head coach Chris Redding. "Both teams battled with players on both sides of the net making plays. If we didn't make a play, we came back and made a play on the next opportunity. We hung in there and finished sets. We have some great momentum right now and we have great team energy and I am very happy with that. We're happy to continue our streak.
Aside of finishing that second set with that six-point lead, a four-point lead was the most either team could muster in the match.
The first set played back and forth to an 18-all tie, but the Owls found an edge with a 5-1 run, with Charlotte committing three attack errors in that span to sabotage the opening set. Temple hit .364 in the first, with 15 kills against just three errors. Charlotte had 14 kills, but eight errors for the .150 attack percentage.
The second set played a lot like the first, save for each team putting up more errors. The set was tied at 17-17 before Charlotte put together the 5-1 late run in this set, with three kills instead of errors in the second to even the match at a set each. Charlotte went with 12 kills and six errors for a .176 percentage, but Temple was sloppy, hitting for a negative percentage (-.079) thanks to 11 miscues in the frame.
Neither team took a lead of more than two points in the third until Charlotte grabbed a 20-17 lead and scored the next point for a four-point margin. At that point, the Owls fought to score three straight points, but the Niners won three of the final four points for the set win and the 2-1 match lead. The Niners hit for a .206 attack percentage, as Charlotte increased their offensive success rate in each of the first three sets. Eight more errors in the third hurt the Owls in that frame.
In the fourth, Temple got out ahead 7-4 before the 49ers reeled off five straight points, including a pair of aces from freshman Savannah Gaster (Johnsonville, S.C. / Johnsonville HS). She tied Temple's Elyse Burkert for the match high with three aces. Gaster has just four aces on the season. At that point of the set, the match was tied five more times before the Owls got ahead 18-14 and looked to send to a fifth-set tiebreaker. The Niners scored three straight to pull to within one and later in the set got back-to-back kills from senior Leah Leventhal (Gainesville, Fla. / Santa Fe HS) to give Charlotte a 21-20 edge. A Niners service error tied the set at 21 before Temple scored two straight to force a 49ers timeout. After the timeout, Charlotte reeled off the last four points of the set on a Leventhal kill, two Temple attack errors and the second ace of the match by senior Abbie Rees (Cincinnati, Ohio / Mount Notre Dame HS).
Leventhal tied two Temple players with the match-high total of 15 kills. Junior outside hitter Bianca Rouse (Columbia, S.C. / Keenan HS) had her team-leading ninth double-double of the season with 14 kills and 13 kills. Gaster finished with six blocks, while sophomore Amanda Videmsek (Highland Heights, Ohio / Beaumont School) had the match high of seven rejections at the net. She has averaged six blocks per match over her last four. Senior setter Sheri Davis (Cape Coral, Fla. / Evangelical Christian HS) finished with 36 assists to go with her nine digs and four blocks.
The 49ers finish this three-match road swing next Friday night at the conference's only unbeaten team, Dayton. The match starts at the Frericks Center, host of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, at 7 p.m.