ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville volleyball team heads to Chattanooga this weekend to play in the Country Inn & Suites Invitational. The Bulldogs will play four matches during the weekend with matches against Tennessee and UT-Martin on Friday and matches vs. Charlotte and Chattanooga on Saturday.
Asheville (4-0) is unbeaten on the young season after winning the Western Carolina Invitational last weekend with wins over Wright State, Boston College and Western Carolina. The Bulldogs knocked off North Carolina Central in three sets on Tuesday in their home opener at Justice Center.
Third-year coach Frederico Santos is pleased with Asheville’s start but knows there’s plenty of work to be done.
“We’re still a work in progress,” admitted Santos. “But then most teams are at this point of the season. I like the way we’ve found ways to win matches in the first part of the year. We’ve dug deep to get the job done a few times this year and that’s always good to see.
“But we need to more consistent,” added Santos. “We’ll play well for spurts and then we’ll have our struggles.”
Santos expects stiff challenges this weekend. Tennessee is 2-1 on the season, while UT-Martin is off to a great start with a 3-0 mark. Charlotte (1-2) and Chattanooga (0-3) faced tough match-ups in the first weekend of the season.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us in Chattanooga,” stated Santos. “This is an outstanding tournament with some great competition. We played well last weekend but we’ll have to play better on Friday and Saturday.”
This is the second time in three years the Bulldogs have participated in this tourney. The Bulldogs went 2-1 two years ago here and finished second behind ETSU. Asheville played Tennessee in a spring tournament in Knoxville and slipped past the Lady Vols.
UNC Asheville plays its next 10 matches away from home and won’t play at Justice Center again until Sept. 27 when the Bulldogs open Big South play against Gardner-Webb.
Asheville’s 4-0 start is the Bulldogs best since an 8-0 start to the 1995 season.
Rachel Wells tied a school-record with seven services aces on Tuesday night against North Carolina Central.
Asheville is second in the Big South in kills (12.42), assists (11.25), service aces (1.58) and digs (16.67).
Chattanooga’s previous head volleyball was Lisa Rhodes who was Asheville’s head coach from 1989-93 and led the Bulldogs to Big South Championships in 1991 and 1992. She was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 in neutral matches this year after going just 1-10 last season.
Asheville captured a tournament at Western Carolina last weekend and it marked the first time the Bulldogs have won a tournament since winning the USC Upstate Invitational in 2009.
The Bulldogs have now won their last three matches against ACC foes. Asheville downed N.C. State in 2008, 2009 and Boston College last weekend.