ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville volleyball team will play its final in-season tournament this weekend when the Bulldogs travel to Charleston to take part in the College of Charleston Classic on Friday and Saturday.
Asheville (7-4) faces Ball State Friday at 4:30 p.m., followed by two matches on Saturday. The Bulldogs battle Alabama A&M at 10 a.m. and host College of Charleston at 2 p.m.
Ball State is enjoying an excellent year. The Cardinals are 9-3 on the season and will face Asheville with a six-game winning streak. Last weekend, they won the Iowa Classic with four wins.
Alabama A&M has faced a demanding non-conference schedule and is 0-11 on the year. College of Charleston is 8-2 this season and picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association in its first year of membership.
“This weekend will be a wonderful test for our team before we go into conference play next week,” explained Bulldog coach Frederico Santos. “We’ve played some tough teams in the first three weeks of the season, and we’re going to play a few more this weekend.
“Ball State is very good and could win the MAC this year,” declared Santos. “Alabama A&M’s record is very deceiving. They’ve lost to Purdue, Oklahoma, Southern Cal and Memphis. We better be ready to play against them.
“College of Charleston has traditionally been very good and it looks like they’re pretty talented again,” Santos also said. “They began the season with eight straight wins and beat some good teams in those matches.”
The Bulldogs went 2-1 last weekend at UNC Wilmington. Asheville lost a close 3-1 decision to the host Seahawks last Friday before bouncing back to down Mercer (3-1) and North Carolina A&T (3-0) on Saturday.
Asheville’s four losses have all been by 3-1 scores. Each loss came close to going to a fifth set where the Bulldogs have won six straight.
“We just need to play a little more consistently and that will get us over the hump in those close matches,” admitted Santos.
Sophomore outside hitter Christine Lakatos leads the Bulldogs in kills with a 3.43 kills per set average. Senior blocker Anna Moore is next with a 3.02 kills per set and is hitting a team-high .329. Rachel Wells is leading the defense with a 5.0 digs per set average.
Asheville returns home next Friday (Sept. 27) when the Bulldogs open Big South Conference play against Gardner-Webb at Justice Center starting at 7 p.m.
UNC Asheville’s 7-4 start is the program’s best since the 2009 team started 8-3.
The Bulldogs are 4-3 in neutral matches after winning just one last season.
Asheville has played 10 of its first 11 matches away from Justice Center.
Christine Laktos is second in the Big South in kills with 3.4 per set average, while Anna Moore is eighth with a 3.0 mark.
Sophomore setter Katie Davis is second in the Big South in assists with a 10.1 average.
Anna Moore is third in the Big South in hitting percentage (.329), blocks (1.1) and aces (.43). Meredith Foster is tied with Moore for blocks, also at 1.1.
Rachel Wells is tied for third in the Big South in digs at 5.0.
Head Coach Frederico Santos now has 80 career wins after the Bulldogs won both matches last Saturday. He has 34 of those wins at Asheville.
The Bulldogs have won their last six five-set matches dating back to last season. Asheville is 1-0 in five-set matches this year after a 3-2 win against Boston College on Aug. 30.