UNC volleyball builds momentum in home wins over Georgia Tech, Clemson
Down 2-0 on Saturday, it looked as if the North Carolina volleyball team would lose its second ACC contest of the season.
But, inspired by a pep talk from Head Coach Joe Sagula, the No. 8 Tar Heels battled to win the next three sets and take the victory from Georgia Tech, 3-2 (22-25, 18-25, 25-14, 25-15, 15-8).
Led by strong play from Taylor Leath, Taylor Fricano and Julia Scoles, the Tar Heels (23-3, 15-1 ACC) defeated the Yellow Jackets (21-7, 12-4 ACC) to sweep the weekend and move closer to the ACC regular-season title.
But the team had to give Leath a pep talk after dropping the first two sets, questioning her play.
“They didn’t think I was going hard, and I wanted to show them what I had," Leath said. "I played for them and I wanted to make plays.”
She certainly did, as she led all Tar Heels with 19 points on the day.
The close win followed a Friday night domination of Clemson, when the Tar Heels won 3-0. The Tar Heels had a .489 hitting percentage on the night in one of the most efficient matches in program history.
With four games left in the season and a three-game lead over Duke in the conference standings, UNC moved very close to its first ACC title since 2014.
“It was the only weekend where we are playing Friday-Saturday, which is similar to the NCAA Tournament where you play back to back," Sagula said. "This was an important lesson to us, most importantly that we could do it in coming from behind to win.”
The two wins on the weekend gave the Tar Heels an 8-1 record at home this season, and all four remaining games are at home. Scoles said the fiery crowd gave the team a boost on Friday.
“It was awesome," she said. "There were so many people, friends and family members that came out to support, and it gives us really good energy.”
The Tar Heels have a tough road ahead, including matches against in-state rivals NC State, Duke and Wake Forest. But the weekend sweep gave the team momentum moving forward.
North Carolina doesn't have much time to rest before facing the Wolfpack on Wednesday. With three more wins, the Tar Heels would clinch at least a share of the ACC title.
And if they play the way they did in the previous two matches, they should have no problem.