“It’s beautiful to beat someone who didn’t think you could do it,” Fricano said.
The whole team played well against a very strong Wisconsin side. Cheered on by a crowd of nearly 4,000 fans, the Tar Heels stayed focused through long rallies and beared down through tight sets to pull out the win.
On Saturday, however, the Tar Heels came out flat — dropping the first two sets by 14 and 13 points, respectively. UNC combined for 15 attack errors in those two sets, compared to three attack errors by the Golden Gophers.
“We were down so much so early, we were just climbing up hill,” Sagula said. “And we just couldn’t get out of it.”
Co-captain Abigail Curry said UNC was not mentally ready to deal with the Golden Gophers’ fast-paced attack.
“Our failure in the first two sets was not technical,” Curry, a senior, said. “It was a mental breakdown on our side.”
The second two sets went better for the Tar Heels, who won the third set before losing a close fourth set. First-year Taylor Borup was constantly relied upon down the stretch, as she hit a career-high 17 kills with four blocks.
The early deficit was too much to overcome, though. While UNC upped its game in the fourth set, Minnesota maintained its high level of play to close out the match.
Despite the poor play at the start of the match, Sagula said he thought the loss would end up as a good thing. Besides, he’d rather have it happen now than in ACC play.
“This match will help us,” Sagula said. “Probably even more than the Wisconsin win.”
His co-captain agreed.
“Being undefeated and not experiencing failure throughout your season is probably one of the worst things that could happen ...” Curry said.
“This is going to be a good thing — to realize that we have a lot of work to do.”