Emily McGee key in volleyball success

After a disappointing loss to Florida State Friday night, the North Carolina volleyball team was able to return to what it considers “Carolina volleyball” with the help of junior outside hitter Emily McGee.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to play our best volleyball tonight,” McGee said after Friday night’s loss against the Seminoles. “We kind of put them on a pedestal and so instead of playing our game, we tried to adjust to their game.”

Determined not to make the same mistakes again, the team entered Sunday’s match against Miami refocused and motivated.

In the ACC, volleyball championships are determined by records at the end of the season rather than a playoff system. McGee said the team entered the match against Miami with renewed passion so they could still be in contention for first place in the ACC.

Despite giving up back-to-back sets and sending the game into a fifth set, the Tar Heels were able to find their confidence.

The beginning of the fifth set went back and forth, just like the previous two. But McGee followed up a joint block from Cameron Van Noy with back-to-back kills to give the Tar Heels a four point lead — the largest lead of the set.

The Tar Heels capitalized on the lead and only allowed Miami to get within two points of a tie for the remainder of the match.

After the game, junior setter Cora Harms was quick to talk about McGee’s impact in the game and her many roles on the team.

“She’s kind of just like the driving force that keeps everyone in the game,” Harms said. “She’s the communicator on the court. She tells us what hitters are there. She’s always ‘in’ emotionally in practice. She’s the instigator.”

Coach Joe Sagula agreed that McGee’s impact on the team was huge, mostly because of her optimism about the team’s future success.

“Emotionally, physically, she’s a significant core to our team,” Sagula said. “She has a firm belief that we will succeed.”

McGee had a stellar offensive performance the entire match against Miami and finished the game with 23 kills. Despite getting a little banged up toward the end of the fifth set, McGee said she is healthy and is looking forward to UNC’s next game — a home match against Virginia Tech on Thursday.

As for the remainder of the season, McGee said she was optimistic about the potential for her squad.

“We just have to think of it as ‘One point is game point,’” she said. “And when we have that kind of focus and intensity, then there’s no stopping us.”

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