ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville volleyball team travels to Presbyterian College on Thursday for its Big South Conference tournament quarterfinal match with Liberty starting at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday’s match will be broadcast by the Big South Digital Network and can be seen for free under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville, the fifth seed, (17-13) faces the defending Big South Conference champion Liberty Flames (10-19) in the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2005 tourney. The teams just played Friday night at Justice Center with Liberty downing the Bulldogs in three sets. LU is the fourth seed.
Frederico Santos’ team comes to the tournament with three straight losses, but knows the tournament is a new season.
“We staggered a little bit down the stretch but at tournament time everyone’s record is 0-0,” explained Santos. “This is by far the most competitive regular-season race I’ve ever seen in the Big South Conference. Every match was tough. You couldn’t take a night off against anybody or you’d get beat.
“The tournament is going to be the same way. There are no easier brackets or easier matches,” added Santos. “Every match will be close and competitive and the team that plays the best will win. We’re excited about our chances.”
Liberty beat Asheville twice this season and both times in three sets.
“We didn’t play well either time we played Liberty but they had a lot do with that,” declared Santos. “Hopefully, we’ll play better on Thursday.”
The Bulldogs will be led on Thursday by their senior first team All-Conference performers in libero Rachel Wells and middle blocker Anna Moore.
Wells leads the nation in digs, averaging 6.42 per set. She tallied a career-best and school record 54 digs against Radford on Nov. 16. Wells is seventh in the league in service aces with 35. She has recorded 20 or more digs in 19 matches including seven matches with 30 or more and three with 40 or more. Wells tallied a career-high seven aces against NC Central on Sept. 3.
Moore has earned three All-Tournament Honors this season, and was named the Big South Player of the Week for the week twice this year. Moore was named Tournament MVP at the WCU Invitational. She is tied for third in the league in hitting percentage (.323), fifth in blocks (1.00 per set) and fifth in aces per set (0.34). Moore leads the team in hitting percentage and blocks.
BULLDOG TOURNAMENT NOTES
Asheville has advanced to the semifinals of the Big South Tournament for two straight years and 10 of the last 12 tournaments.
The Bulldogs have faced Liberty nine times in the tournament and have a 3-6 record. This is the fourth time the teams have played in the quarterfinals with the Lady Flames having a 2-1 advantage.
Asheville’s 17 wins is the most by the Bulldog program since winning 19 in 2010.
The Bulldogs went 7-7 in league play for the third straight year.
Asheville is 5-4 in neutral site matches.
The Bulldog program has recorded two BSC championships and they occurred in 1991 and 1992.
Rachel Wells has recorded an average of 9.6 digs per set in Asheville’s last six matches. She has 232 digs in those matches.
Sophomore outside hitter Christine Lakatos has at least 10 kills in eight of her last nine matches.