By Ashika Raval – Staff Writer
UNC Asheville’s women’s volleyball team defeated North Carolina A&T 3–0 last Thursday at home. This marks the Bulldog’s sixth undefeated home game this season.
“I think that in the first set we were down and A&T played really well. They came out really strong and fought really hard, but we didn’t let that break us down like we have in other matches. I think we did a really good job in fighting back and playing together as a team throughout the whole entire match,” said Captain Anna Moore, senior from Raleigh. “When we have a big crowd in here it’s really hard for other teams to play us here in the Justice Center. Our crowd does a lot for us and gives us a lot of energy when we are playing.”
Katie Davis, a sophomore and native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., kept the game going with 28 assists.
“The first set we were struggling a little bit and we got down by four or five. Then our serving brought us back in the game. We started serving tougher and serving our target and they couldn’t cap it. We got them into a system so we knew where they were setting and we could get a block,” Davis said. “They are a scrappy team; they get a lot of stuff up. Our hardest hits they will get up, they might not get a big kill back but they will get it over the net. It was hard to terminate the ball.”
Coach Frederico Santos prepares his team the same way each game, regardless of whether it’s a conference game. Coming into this game against N.C. A&T, Santos said it was hard to tell what they would be playing against because their record is inconsistent. Their technique was to watch their players carefully and see where they always turn to hitting the ball. They prepared by watching game films and practice on court all week.
UNCA’s volleyball team consists of five seniors and five sophomores, many of whom are the top players on the team. With five players leaving the team this year, they will have to prepare for a change.
“We have a good number of sophomores and a good number of seniors that play, and I think they just kind of look up to us on and off the court. I thought of them as babies last year when they were freshman, but they really stepped it up and they play as leaders on the court and that makes me really happy,” Moore said.
Moore said she feels like sophomore Christine Lakatos has really stepped it up.
“She’s our go-to player. We like to give her a lot of balls and she does a really good job at putting them down. I think that she’s still in her learning growth but she is doing a great job and I think that by her senior year she will be one of the best outside hitters,” Moore said.
Lakatos scored a total of 12 points during the Bulldog’s defeat against N.C. A&T.
Sophomore Shelby Erickson, a Florida native, is also a top scoring outside hitter, scoring 8 points during N.C. A&T’s defeat.
“I have the best girls behind me telling me I can do it really helps. I had a little bit of a rough start but I had the help of my teammates say, ‘OK, get your head together, play like you know you can play.’ A lot of credit goes to the girls; they motivate me and let me know I can do it,” Erickson said.
Girls on the teams say both captains Anna Moore and Rachel Wells are dependable on and off the team. They are available when it comes to working on the court but also when school gets tough.
Senior Captain Rachel Wells plays as the Bulldogs only defensive specialist.
“I think it’s really exciting that I’m playing the whole time and that I’m always on the back row. It’s just my favorite thing. I’m just trying to live it up while I can. I have around 10 more games so I’m giving it my all,” Wells said. “Being an athlete is how I identify myself. It’s hard to imagine how I’m going to be in about a month when I’m completely done for my whole life, so it’s like what do I identify myself as?”
Shelby said one of her goals for next year is leading the team because next year is going to be different with the seniors no longer being on the team.
The Bulldogs have eight more matches left this season, four of which will be played at home in the Justice Center.