Tar Heel volleyball stays perfect in ACC play

Two ACC weekends down, zero losses.

Still perfect in conference play after weekend wins against Clemson and Georgia Tech, the North Carolina volleyball team just wants to keep its momentum going.

And so far, the Tar Heels have been doing a good job stopping everyone else’s.

“We never panic. We never worry. We just know that we can get the next point,” coach Joe Sagula said. “We have not let the momentum of another team from one play affect the next play. Once a play is over, we have the mindset to fight, get a first ball kill and finish the play.”

After two straight-sets wins last week, North Carolina pulled out two hard-fought matches this weekend. They beat Clemson on Friday in a contest that went the full five sets, then won a tightly-contested three-set match against Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Maryland and Boston College didn’t do much against UNC a week ago, but the Tigers and Yellow Jackets gave the Tar Heels all they could handle.

Against Clemson, North Carolina lost the first set, won the next two, then lost the fourth to set up the deciding final set.

In the fifth set, the Tar Heels finally pulled away. They took a 4-3 lead and never gave it up, holding on to win the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.

UNC took down Georgia Tech in straight sets in Saturday’s match, but the Yellow Jackets still caused trouble for the Tar Heels.

The Yellow Jackets had set points at 24-23 and 26-25 in the first set, but the Tar Heels saved them both and came back to win the set 28-26.

After North Carolina easily won the second set 25-18, things got tight again in the third.

This time, Georgia Tech had two consecutive opportunities to win the set, holding a 24-22 lead. But UNC came back again, and eventually clinched the match by taking the set 27-25.

Sagula said that his players did a good job staying composed no matter what the situation.

“The players don’t get nervous, whether the score’s 24-22 or 5-5,” Sagula said. “I think we play each point with that same mentality of calmness, and, yes, a little bit of urgency knowing we have to get it done, but it’s not a panic.

“We’re not being conservative, we’re being very aggressive. We know what we have to do and how we want to play the game.”

All four of North Carolina’s ACC wins have come on the road. Sagula said his team’s success can be attributed to the fact that the Tar Heels don’t need the same player to carry the team every match.

“Different people are stepping up,” Sagula said. “One night it might be Emily McGee just blasting the ball and playing great defense. Another night it’s Kaylie Gibson, just digging phenomenally… It’s everybody playing their role, and we’re not relying on one person to be the go-to player.”

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