And “pretty good” might be a bit of an understatement, as North Carolina finished the match in three sets (25-23, 25-20, 25-16) with 39 kills, 44 digs and a .326 hitting percentage against a feisty Notre Dame squad that certainly presented its challenges.
“A lot of the players said that they weren’t satisfied,” Sagula said. “We made some mistakes, and even though we were playing well enough that we were dominating, we just wanted to finish hard.”
North Carolina and Notre Dame exchanged points for much of the third set, but a kill from senior outside hitter Lauren McAdoo to stretch the score to 16-13 allowed the Tar Heels to get away until an attack error by Notre Dame ended the match.
“Notre Dame is a good, respectable team, even if they’re not top 10,” said junior outside hitter Leigh Andrew. “But we had to treat them like one. Mentally we had to come into this game like that, and we couldn’t just overlook them.”
And they didn’t. They couldn’t overlook Louisville either (15-14, 7-10 ACC) Sunday in UNC’s last road game of the regular season, which the Tar Heels won 3-1, though the score doesn’t reflect the true intensity of the match.
“Louisville played really great, really scrappy,” Sagula said.
After a close first set, Louisville came out, and behind five Tar Heel errors, took the second set 25-20.
“I honestly think their defense was one of the best we’ve seen,” said McAdoo, who racked up a team-high 17 kills. “They were digging really well, and we just had to focus on being patient and smart.”
And patience — despite struggled passing and 23 total errors — is what won the next two sets (27-25, 26-24) and ultimately the match for UNC.
Though it wasn’t its best performance, the team’s focus, just like always, is off this weekend and onto the next match: Duke on Wednesday.
“Our focus is to win and to play better than we did this weekend,” Sagula said. “We have to learn from this, build momentum and know that we can expect a real good battle coming up.”