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UAB volleyball best Charlotte, 3-1, in final match of regular season
In the final game of regular season play, the UAB volleyball team beat Charlotte, 3-1, on Sunday, November 17 at Bartow Arena.
“The win is not the important thing for us. It’s the fact that we played well. We played with a lot of emotion and energy,” head coach Kerry Messersmith said.
The Blazers (20-13, 7-7) dropped the first set to the 49ers (12-17, 2-12), 25-22. Charlotte seemed to be much more in control of the match in the first set, but UAB came back with confidence and energy.
“I think we kept them out of the system a little better in the final, in the last three sets, and I think that made all the difference. They’re a very good team,” Messersmith said about Charlotte. “I think we were just able to put a little more pressure on them.”
In the second set, there were two lead changes and seven tied scores. UAB was ahead, fell behind, and got ahead again. But when the score was 21-15, Charlotte fought back. The teams traded points, and the 49ers got close to catching up. Ultimately, though, the hosts took the set 25-21.
The third set was closer, this time without a lead change. UAB was ahead the entire set, with Charlotte not far behind. The Blazers often had a four-point lead, but, in the end, they won the set 25-21.
With UAB up two sets, the teams battled out the fourth as Charlotte desperately tried to stay in the match. Ultimately, the Green and Gold secured their victory with a 25-23 win in the final set.
The Blazers had an outstanding offense with three players getting double-digit kills. Junior Kiriana Hirini led the team with 19 kills and 32 assists. Junior Sara Rishell was close behind with 18 kills and 31 assists, and senior Ally Slaughter collected 13 kills and 40 assists.
Defensively, senior libero Rachel Fairbanks collected 21 digs. Slaughter tallied 12, marking her second straight double-double.
After the conclusion of the match, UAB’s three seniors were recognized on the court. Fairbanks, Slaughter and Becca Howard celebrated their final regular season match with Messersmith and their families.
“They’re phenomenal kids in every aspect. They will be greatly missed, and they’ve been key players for us,” their coach said.
The Blazers now head into the Conference USA Tournament, which starts on Thursday, November 21 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Messersmith said her team’s performance today is encouraging as they head into post-season play.
“Tonight’s the first night in about a month that we’ve seen our kids really have a spark and ready to go, which you want to (have) right going into the conference tournament.”