On Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina women’s volleyball team matched up against Louisville. In a close contest, the Cardinals won the match in five sets, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11. With the win, Louisville is now 13-1 at home while the Tar Heels are 1-8 on the road.
After dropping the first two sets to the Cardinals, the Tar Heels stormed back to win the next two. Louisville was fueled in the first two sets by the play of Melanie McHenry, who had three consecutive kills to put UNC away in the first and then contributed seven kills in the second. North Carolina was able to return fire in the next two sets primarily due to the play of redshirt junior Taylor Leath, who had three clutch kills near the end of set three as well as set-winning kills in both sets three and four. In the final set, North Carolina built on their momentum, getting out to a 5-1 lead. However, the Cardinals would come back to tie it at seven. Louisville then finished the set by scoring the final four points and ended the match with a kill by Melanie McHenry.
Who stood out?
McHenry, whose name dotted the stat sheet, provided the spark for the Cardinals throughout the game. She finished the game with 30 kills. The Tar Heels were led by the duo of Leath and redshirt first-year Holly Carlton. Leath had 14 kills and 15 digs, while Carlton finished with another triple-double by way of 10 kills, 12 digs, and 21 assists.
When was it decided?
The game clearly came down to the last five points and was a match of momentum. The Tar Heels, who took the momentum away from Louisville with their win in the third set, looked comfortable in the fourth and confident early on in the fifth. However, the Cardinals were able to turn the tide late to beat North Carolina.
Why does it matter?
The loss marks the twelfth of the season for North Carolina, a number they haven’t seen since 2009 when they finished 15-16. Currently, the team stands two games above .500, but has two tough road matches coming at Wake Forest and Duke. Losses against these two teams to close to out the regular season could keep the team from receiving an NCAA tournament-bid — and mean an early end to the season for the Tar Heels.