Much like they did back on September 23, the Saint Louis Billikens and Charlotte 49ers played a tight match, but despite the tight set scores, SLU came away with a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 28-26, 25-23) in the Queen City in Atlantic 10 volleyball action Sunday afternoon in Halton Arena. It was the fifth-straight time the two teams played at least one set to extra points. The Billikens stay in third place alone with a 9-4 league record, 13-10 overall. Charlotte slides to a game out of the sixth and final A-10 Tournament berth, at 5-8. The 49ers have an 11-14 overall mark.
"I was proud of the way we played this afternoon," said Charlotte head coach Chris Redding. "The scores don't reflect our level of play today. We need to keep getting better and finish this out next weekend so we can keep playing."
The Niners held a prematch ceremony for its three outgoing seniors, playing the final home match of 2011. The 49ers came out to an emotional start, grabbing an early 10-3 lead in the opening set. It looked like the Niners would take the first set until the Billikens put together a 5-0 run to close to within three at 18-15. Charlotte held the first-set lead all the way to 22-22, and the Billikens scored the set's final five points to take the early lead.
The second set featured 11 ties and five lead changes, most of them late. The 49ers had a 5-0 run in the waning stages of the stanza to force a 19-all tie. The teams traded points until, at 26-all, the Billikens netted the set's final two points and the 2-0 match lead.
The third set was much like the second, with 11 ties and five lead changes. Saint Louis looked like it might run away with the frame after a 7-0 took a 15-9 lead, but Charlotte had a 3-0 and 4-0 run late in the set, eventually tying the set at 19. The teams kept it close to a 23-all tie and a pair of SLU kills finished the match.
Charlotte's 60 digs were the most in a three-set match this season.
Charlotte junior outside hitter Bianca Rouse (Columbia, S.C. / Keenan HS) put up her team-leading 12th double-double of the season, leading the Niners with 16 kills and 13 digs. Senior outside hitter Leah Leventhal (Gainesville, Fla. / Santa Fe HS) added eight kills for Charlotte. Senior setter Sheri Davis (Cape Coral, Fla. / Evangelical Christian HS) also logged her eighth double-double of the season with 34 assists and 10 digs. She has 22 career double-doubles, more than any current 49er. Junior libero Jenna LItoborski (Lemont, Ill. / Lemont HS) and senior defensive specialist Abbie Rees each added 10 digs. Rees moved into 25th all-time in program history with a career total of 839 digs.
Charlotte will finish up the regular season next weekend, with a Friday night road match at Fordham, followed by a Sunday tilt at Rhode Island, which could be for the final tournament berth, depending on Fridays outcomes.