The Tar Heels battled through a tight first set to pull away at the end and win 25-20. The ACC title was within the Tar Heels’ grasp, but they failed to capitalize.
In the second set, the momentum began to change. Coach Joe Sagula said the team was equally bad in every phase of the game, and Duke took advantage.
“We knew what they were going to do and they were still able to do it,” he said. “We could not slow them down.”
Duke won the last three sets of the match in convincing fashion. Junior setter Abigail Curry — who led the team with 39 assists — said North Carolina lacked communication and couldn’t get into a rhythm.
“Everything was just off,” she said. “There wasn’t one of us that really executed our game the way we should have.”
“I would like to find some bright spot on our play today but there really wasn’t much of any, unfortunately.” — Sagula on what the Tar Heels can take away from the match.
With a win, the Tar Heels could have secured a share of the ACC championship with Louisville. It would have been the 13th conference title in the program’s history.
Three numbers that matter
12: The loss ended the Tar Heels' 12-game winning streak.
30: The Tar Heels committed 30 hitting errors in the match, 11 more than the Blue Devils committed.
.106: The Tar Heels managed a hitting percentage of only .106 percent against Duke’s tough defense.
This match marks the end of the Tar Heels’ regular season. The team will likely earn an at-large bid in the 64-team NCAA Volleyball Championship, which begins on Dec. 3. The selection committee will reveal the tournament bracket on Sunday.