Volleyball team falls to Western Carolina University

By Max Carter – jcarter1@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Sept. 24, 2014 |

Christine Lakatos dives to reach the ball during a game at the Justice Center. Photo by Adrian Etheridge - Contributor
Christine Lakatos dives to reach the ball during a game at the Justice Center.
Photo by Adrian Etheridge – Contributor

After spending the first 10 games of the season on the road, the UNC Asheville volleyball team played its first home game against Western Carolina University last Tuesday.

The Justice Center’s first home game of the season concluded with a 0-3 loss and UNCA slumped to a record of 2-9.

“We are still working on our team chemistry with all of these new players but it is coming along,” said Frederico Santos, head coach. “We blocked very well against Western, we just have other things to work on.”

This was WCU’s first win in the Justice Center since 2002. The Catamounts won all three sets with scores of 25-21, 25-15 and 25-19.

“I thought there was a lot of nervous energy in the game and I don’t think we converted it very well,” said Catherine Fischer, sophomore right side hitter.

Fischer said the nerves of competing at home greatly affected the way the players performed.

“Usually we get nervous and it turns into aggressiveness but I think it was the complete opposite,” Fischer said. “At the beginning, it was going our way and then something went wrong and we got timid.”

The first set began with the Bulldogs in control, playing together and gaining a quick 4-1 lead in the set. After a few errors allowing points, though, the Catamounts stormed ahead and never lost the lead until UNCA opened the third and final set with a score of 3-1. WCU then went on a tear, created some distance in the score board and finished with a win.

“We definitely need to work on our consistency,” said Christine Lakatos, sophomore outside hitter. “The home atmosphere was so amazing but I think a lot of girls thought it was a lot to take in.”

According to Santos, the Justice Center acts as the “seventh man” because of how close the stands are to the court and how loud the fans can get.

The 2013 squad won eight out of 10 games played in the Justice Center, but for many on this year’s team it was the first time being in front of a home crowd. Lakatos and Fischer are two of only six returning players on the team with the majority being freshmen.

“I think we were really overwhelmed with the fans, which is ridiculous because we usually do our best at home,” Fischer said. “We need to change it into an advantage for us. It should not be a disadvantage to play at home.”

Lakatos said the fans were amazing against WCU, but the pressure of playing in front of familiar faces was somewhat intimidating.

“Credit to the fans but we need to get used to playing at home,” Lakatos said. “Those are their peers. They want them to know they’re doing well and working hard. It is a different kind of pressure that we are going to have to get used to.”

In their first home loss of the season, Lakatos said they will use the experience as a learning tool to prepare for the future.

“I think we learned a lot from that game. We learned no matter who’s cheering, no matter what is going on, we need to play consistently,” Lakatos said. “I also think we have learned a lot in the past couple weekends. They have been really hard weekends but we learned what we need to do in game situations. You have to learn through experience and that is what we have been doing.”

After a series of road losses in Jacksonville, Florida the Bulldogs are back home Tuesday for their second home game of the season.

With the new experience of playing at home, Fischer said the attitude going into this next game will be different than with WCU.

“We need to just have more fun. We were out there and so nervous it did not seem fun and we are playing the sport we love,” Fischer said. “Every time we made a mistake we are looking at fans, we are looking at our coaches. We need to just have fun and show everyone how good we are.”

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