When Claire Kreuz signed on to play volleyball at UNC Charlotte, her main goals were to play her way into the rotation and find a way to contribute to a young 49ers team.
Kreuz has done more than that, however, cracking the starting lineup as a freshman and becoming a key finisher in Charlotte’s attack.
Kreuz, from Boerne, Texas, came up with double-digit kills in her first three matches as a 49er during the season-opening Davidson Wildcat Classic Aug. 30-31.
The outside hitter-setter had 13 kills in Charlotte’s tournament opener against California State-Bakersfield, a season-best 19 against host Davidson and 11 in the 49ers’ win over Charleston Southern. That earned Kreuz a spot on the all-tournament team.
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“I couldn’t have done all that without the team,” Kreuz said. “I had a lot of nerves because it was my first matches with a new team. But our captain, Amanda (Videmsek, one of two seniors on the team), was great at helping me settle down.”
The 6-foot-tall Kreuz was the most valuable player in the Texas University Interscholastic League Region IV District 27. She led her Samuel V. Champion High School team to the state 4A regional finals in her senior year.
She was getting college attention from Texas-San Antonio and Saint Mary’s University, an NCAA Division II program in San Antonio. But Kreuz wanted to go to college far away from Texas.
That was good news for Charlotte head coach Chris Redding, who was rebuilding a 49ers team that had lost four starters off last year’s 10-16 team (2-10 in the Atlantic 10).
“We were looking for someone with versatility,” Redding said. “When we saw (Kreuz) … she could pass, she could set and she could hit the ball from both pins. She had the versatility we needed, so we could change our roster and open things up.
“It’s been a perfect fit for her, because she’s done both – hit and set up – already just one week into her college season. She definitely carried a lot of offensive production for us.
“We were definitely surprised she was so good,” Redding said, “but we were pleased by it, too.”
It has also helped that Kreuz joined a relatively young Charlotte team, which has nine underclassmen – four freshmen, four sophomores and a redshirt freshman in libero Jackie Servais – on its 13-player roster.
“I never feel like I have a lot of pressure on me,” Kreuz said. “I was definitely shocked when I was made a starter, but it’s been awesome. I thought I might need a year to get to where I needed to be (skills-wise), but I’ve always been eager to step in and play.”
Runners finish 4th in S.C.
Charlotte’s men’s and women’s cross country teams opened the season with fourth-place finishes at the Carolina Challenge meet in Columbia Aug. 31.
Most of the 49ers’ top runners sat out the meet to prepare for the upcoming Charlotte Invitational. The 49ers’ best individual finisher was in the women’s race: sophomore Carolina Casin-Silva came in fifth overall in her debut with the team. Her time of 18 minutes, 59.90 seconds over the 5-kilometer Fort Jackson course was a personal best.
Two other Charlotte runners finished in the top 20 in the women’s race: freshman Aliesha Murrell, 18th in 19:43.12; and sophomore Caragh MacDermott, 20th, 19:57.74.
Among the Charlotte men, sophomore Michael Tamoyo had the 49ers’ best finish, coming in 13th in 16:24.78. Sophomore Nick Rolz also finished in the top 20, coming in 18th in 16:34.27.
“It was good to see what we did as a team, a good way to start the season off,” Charlotte head coach Ed Schlichter said. “Conditions were extremely hot and humid, but with all things considered, we ran very well.”
Davidson’s men won the team title, beating the College of Charleston by 29 points (35-64), while Coastal Carolina edged host South Carolina by two points (39-41) for the women’s team title.
Charlotte’s next meet will be the Charlotte Invitational, scheduled for Sept. 28.
Midfielder earns weekly honor
Junior midfielder Amanda Jones was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s National Team of the Week Aug. 27 for her performance in Charlotte’s season-opening games against Liberty and UNC Wilmington.
Jones scored the game-winning goal in each matches for the 49ers. She scored with just over two minutes remaining in the second overtime period to give Charlotte a 1-0 victory over Liberty on Aug. 20. Then on Aug. 21 she scored at the 1:32 mark for the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win over UNC Wilmington.
Jones is the first Charlotte player in nearly three years to earn the TopDrawerSoccer.com award, since Whitney Weinraub and Macky Wingo were named to the team in November 2010. She’s also just the seventh player in the program’s history to earn the award.