The North Carolina volleyball team is playing in the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history. No. 7-seed UNC (29-3) will face No. 10-seed UCLA (26-6) at 10:45 p.m. on Friday in Minneapolis. Here’s what to know about the Bruins.
How do they play?
With three players selected to the AVCA All-Region First Team and another two named as honorable mentions, the Bruins’ depth allows them to play balanced on the court. Four players are averaging more than two kills per set. That should be an interesting matchup against North Carolina, since the Tar Heels also feature strong depth.
Who stands out?
AVCA All-Region Honorable Mention Reily Buechler has taken off in tournament play. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the junior outside hitter tied a season high with 21 kills against Murray State. She followed that performance with 13 kills in the Bruins’ sweep of Baylor. Expect Buechler to test UNC’s blockers with her power in Friday’s matchup.
North Carolina will have to get past Jennie Frager at the net. Frager leads the Bruins in blocks per set (1.14) and has tallied a team-leading nine blocks so far in the NCAA Tournament. She will prove instrumental for UCLA in countering the Tar Heels' powerful play, as UNC's lineup includes many players who excel in spiking the ball.
What’s their weakness?
North Carolina holds an advantage in blocking, mainly because of Taylor Fricano and Beth Nordhorn — who average 1.35 and 1.06 blocks per set, respectively. Conversely, Frager is the only Bruin averaging more than one block per set. As a result, UNC outpaces the Bruins in blocks per set (2.97 to 2.36).