UNC volleyball picks up 5-set win
Kayla Berringer uncorked a massive swing, the ball slammed onto the court, and 15,000 fans went wild in the Smith Center as the No. 14 North Carolina volleyball team finished off Maryland Friday to push its record to 19-1. But after the match, the members of the ACC’s top-ranked team had a long talk with coach Joe Sagula before they hustled off to Late Night with Roy.
“We won, great,” Sagula said after the match. “I’m delighted that we could come out of this match with a win, not exactly excited about how we played the match tonight.”
The Tar Heels started slowly on their way to a five-set win against the Terrapins, (21-25, 25-13, 25-23, 21-25, 15-11) but looked to be on their way to a four-set win after taking sets two and three. A Maryland rally in the fourth set, however, extended the match.
“We just got sloppy in the third set and the fourth set,” Sagula said. “I was disappointed, I thought we should have won it in four.”
A player who wasn’t sloppy was Lauren Adkins. The junior led the team in kills with a career-high 16 and helped will her team to a fifth-set win with three kills in the decisive game. She said Sagula challenged her team to refocus as UNC comes down the home stretch of its season.
“There was a lot of talk going on,” Adkins said. “(Sagula) just said how everyone needs to come together and play together.”
The Tar Heels had a chance to respond to their coach’s message two days later when UNC hosted Pittsburgh on Sunday in Carmichael Arena.
UNC came back with a more complete performance, taking care of the Panthers in four sets, (25-21, 21-25, 25-17, 25-10) to move to 20-1 overall and 9-1 in the ACC.
Sophomore middle blocker Victoria McPherson had one of her best games of the season with 14 kills and said her coach always knows what to say, even if the Tar Heels don’t want to hear it.
“Half the time he’s telling us things that we might not want to hear, but what we need to hear,” McPherson said. “I think we used everything he said constructively and came in tonight with a different mindset and really used it to our advantage.”
UNC was much smoother in its passing and hitting on their way to a .330 hitting percentage, compared to just .237 on Friday
Outside hitter Jovana Bjelica led the team in kills on Sunday with 16, a feat all the more impressive considering she was battling a multitude of injuries, as she was seen riding an exercise bike one second, and slamming down a kill the next.
Bjelica’s gutsy performance inspired the whole the team, a team Sagula said is willing to sacrifice individual accolades in order to win.
“It takes more than one player to be successful in this sport,” Sagula said. “We have a lot of people that we can add to this team to inspire us.
“We’ll do whatever it takes.”