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Georgia Invitational

Evans powers Bulldogs' sweep past UNC Charlotte

34 days ago
Georgia Athletics
Photo: Georgia Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia Bulldogs opened play in the Bulldog Classic with a bang, sweeping the Charlotte 49ers (4-1) on Friday evening at Stegeman Coliseum, led by senior Kacie Evans with 15 kills and six digs.

Now standing at 4-0, UGA has swept each of its first four opponents, marking the first time the program has done so since 2017, when it won the opening five matches of the season 3-0.

While still early in the season, the Georgia offense appeared to be in midseason form, with five Bulldogs credited with at least five kills and the team boasting an impressive 44 kills on .372 hitting.

"Without my teammates, I don't think I could ever have a good match," said sophomore Libero Bailey Cox. "The connection between me and Mallory Downing as passers, she's a great passer and I feel so comfortable next to her while in serve-receive. ... Without my teammates, I could not be able to move so quick or see so much and really the talk between is awesome."

Georgia opened the match with three of its first four points coming by way of kills from the outside hitter Evans. The UGA offense continued churning early, and after a powerful attack above the net from middle blocker Sophie Fischer led to a kill, Charlotte was forced to use a timeout as it took a 13-7 lead.

The 49ers would go on to win nine of the next 14 points, clawing back to trail by two points, 18-16, in the opening set. Another Evans' kill and a Charlotte error would then open a 21-17 Bulldogs advantage with a set lead in sight. Evans, a Wadsworth, Ohio native, closed the set with a kill, giving Georgia a first set win by a 25-20 score.

The opening of set two also rolled in favor of Georgia, running out to a 7-2 lead that forced a 49ers timeout early into play. Charlotte managed to make a run of its own, led by four kills from Emani Foster, and forced UGA to regroup while up 12-10.

The next 14 points were mostly back and forth, with neither team able to gain momentum. Georgia was able to capitalize on three errors over this stretch and double its lead to four, which caused Charlotte to use its final timeout of the set while trailing 20-16.

However, the 49ers snatched three of the next four points after a pair of kills, just trailing by one, 21-20. After rattling off three straight and an ace from Evans, the Dawgs kept the 49ers at bay and earned the second set, again by a score of 25-20.

Charlotte opened the final stanza with its first lead of the night at 6-3 off a four-point run and started gaining momentum by forcing the ball into UGA's open space on the floor. An Evans kill stopped the run, but a service error gave the ball back to the 49ers. After a Bulldog error, head coach Tom Black called a timeout while trailing 8-4 to adjust.

After trading points, Georgia began to find their footing once again, tying the third set at 11 after a kill from Fischer and Evans each. Another three-point Charlotte run gave them a lead but was quickly surrendered after senior Meghan Froemming earned a kill and two aces, once again squaring the score at 15.

Neither team was able to create breathing room in terms of a lead deep into the final set. Six points were split between the home and away squads, before a Fischer put the ball away after an attack high above the net, giving UGA a 19-18 lead and forced a Charlotte timeout.

The Bulldogs took three straight kills and forced the Niners final timeout of the match while leading 22-19. After a block appeared to give Charlotte some last-minute life, Georgia responded with one of their own by Froemming and Fischer to put it up three.

An attack from Froemming which was originally called as an error was challenged by coach Black and gave UGA its fourth win of the season off a 25-22 win in the third set.

Sophomore Defensive Specialist Bailey Cox On today's match... "It was a lot of fun. We worked all week to prepare for this tournament this weekend, and I think we did an amazing job of connecting. Throughout practice, we always talk about connection between the back row, the hitters, the blockers, and I thought our connection tonight was really good. Connection meaning talking and seeing with our eyes, what's the setter doing? Really giving feedback between one another is really important for us, and I thought that we did a really good job of it tonight. We can only go up from here, so I'm excited for tomorrow and I know the rest of the team is too." On how the fans impact the game... "The fans are insane. I can't even describe the feeling whenever I first walk out and see just so many people filling up the seats. There's no other feeling like that, and honestly, that's one of the biggest reasons why I love the sport so much. Attracting attention to this, to women's volleyball and NCAA women's sports all around is just a really big thing right now, and I think attracting more fans just makes it so much more exciting." On how she contributed the offense tonight... "Without my teammates, I don't think I could ever have a good match. The connection between me and Mallory Downing as passers, she's a great passer and I feel so comfortable next to her while in serve-receive. And defense, just hearing my teammates next to me saying, 'There's a tip,' reading the hitters hand, reading the setter's hand if they're going to dump. Without my teammates, I could not be able to move so quick or see so much and really the talk between is awesome."

Head women's volleyball coach Tom Black On the team's performance... "It was a hard-fought game. Charlotte played really tough and aggressive. We just wanted to make a few more plays down the stretch." On what the team will take from this game into the double header tomorrow... "It took a lot. We just need to make sure we are connected as a team. That is what we need to be ready to go, and I know we will. We will respond tomorrow."

Up Next The Bulldogs' next two matches in the Bulldog Classic will be played Saturday, as they take on College of Charleston on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. and Texas Tech at 7:30 p.m. to conclude the round robin tournament.