North Carolina didn’t look like the top-15 team it is, sending services into the net and missing easy kills wide right and left.
But with the chips on the table and their backs against the wall, the Tar Heels regained composure. In the final two sets, UNC committed only three errors, playing with precision and once again dominating N.C. State.
Who stood out?
When the Tar Heels wavered, Julia Scoles stayed consistent and kept her team in the game.
The first-year played like a seasoned veteran and was a force at the net, leading all players with 18 kills.
Scoles made some crucial mistakes defensively, but she made up for them on the offensive end. Despite her team’s sloppy play, the outside hitter had only one error the entire match.
In the final two sets, Scoles also sparked her team with two key blocks. In her first season of collegiate play, she has emerged as one of the most consistent players on the Tar Heel squad.
When was it decided?
The match was over as soon as UNC scored its first point in the fifth set. The Tar Heels fell behind 0-3, but once they got their first point, they rolled over N.C. State. With a big win in the fourth set, UNC had momentum on its side, and all the team needed was one point to start the rout.
Once UNC finally did score, the Tar Heels closed the game with a 15-4 run.
Why does it matter?
Coming off a tough loss against TCU, it was crucial that the Tar Heels didn't drop a second straight match. North Carolina dropped four spots in the rankings after its loss to the Horned Frogs, and a loss to an unranked N.C. State team would not have helped its ranking going forward.
The Tar Heels were also looking to start their ACC campaign strong. With a tough road victory to start ACC play, UNC will look to carry the momentum over going forward.
Thursday’s match also marked the fourth time North Carolina found itself in a five-match set. The team is now 3-1 in those matches, proving it can get big wins in crucial moments. UNC’s performance at the end of games will likely not go overlooked as it looks to climb the polls going forward.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to take on Boston College on Sunday at noon.