ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville volleyball team finishes the regular season at home this weekend with two important Big South Conference matches. Asheville hosts defending Big South Conference champion Liberty Friday night at 7 p.m. and will then have Senior Day on Saturday when the Bulldogs entertain Big South-leader Radford at 2 p.m.
Friday’s match can be seen for free on the Big South Digital Network under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com. Both matches can be followed with live stats, also under the multimedia tag.
The Bulldogs (17-11, 7-5 BSC) have much to play for this weekend. Asheville enters the Liberty match in a three-way tie for third place with High Point and the Lady Flames. Frederico Santos’ club has an outside chance of even finishing in a tie for first or second place with two wins and some help. Radford and Coastal Carolina are tied for first at 9-3. The Big South Conference championship is next week at Presbyterian College (Nov. 21-24).
In addition, the Bulldogs would live to avenge their worst weekend of the season. Asheville traveled to Radford and Liberty in the first weekend of October and was blitzed 3-0 in both matches. The Bulldogs could never get untracked in either match and lost in three sets.
And finally with two wins this weekend, Asheville would do something that no other Bulldog volleyball team has ever done and that’s finish the season unbeaten at home. Asheville is 8-0 at Justice Center this season and has won 12 straight matches dating back to last year.
“We have much to play for this weekend but the main thing is to get better with each match and have some momentum for next week’s Big South Tournament,” admitted Santos. “Liberty and Radford will be two stern tests for us as both of them beat us pretty handily earlier this year. Hopefully, we’re playing better than we were that weekend and can play well in front of our home fans.”
Asheville split two road matches last weekend. The Bulldogs rallied for a five-set win at Presbyterian College Friday night before falling in five sets to Winthrop on Saturday. Asheville lost two close sets to PC on Friday before turning the match around in the middle of the third set and getting the victory. The Bulldogs could never get untracked at Winthrop the next day but made incredible comebacks in the second and fourth sets to somehow force a fifth set.
“I was really proud of the way we fought back in both matches,” stated Santos. “We played pretty well in the first two sets at PC but just couldn’t win either set. I thought we took our game up another notch and got the job done.
“We simply never got into any kind of flow at Winthrop and yet we got the match to a fifth set,” added Santos. “The match could have easily ended in three sets or four but we kept battling and got it to a fifth set.”
Saturday will be an emotional day as the Bulldogs say good-bye to five talented seniors. They are setter Jaimie Dorfman, middle blocker Meredith Foster, outside hitter Anna Moore, defensive specialist Alex Stewart and libero Rachel Wells,
“I appreciate everything our five seniors have done for our program,” declared Santos. “They accepted me as a new head coach and have worked very hard since I got here. They’ve accomplished a great deal and have a chance to accomplish some more.”
Senior libero Rachel Wells is second nationally in digs. Wells has accumulated 631 digs this year and her 5.95 per set average has her first in the Big South and second in the nation. She trails Western Carolina’s Morgan Cochran who leads the country with a 6.13 per set mark. The Statesville native posted a career-high 42 digs in a thrilling five-set win over Presbyterian College Friday night. She then had 23 the next day in a five-set loss at Winthrop.
Asheville’s 17 wins this year is the most for the Bulldog program in the Santos’ era and most since the 2010 season it won 19 matches.
The Bulldogs are 27-5 at Justice Center over the last four years.
Liberty has won six of the last seven matches against Asheville. Radford has won the last four meetings between teams, including two straight at Justice Center.
Christine Lakatos set a new career-high in kills at PC Friday night with 26 kills. She’s second in the Big South in kills with a 3.5 per set average.
Setter Katie Davis is third in the Big South in assists with a 10.0 average.