North Carolina's volleyball squad dropped a tough match to Wake Forest at home Friday night because of a slow start. The team was determined it would not happen again.
So the Tar Heels came out looking to start strong, and they took an early lead against rival Duke on their way to a
3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.
"(Against Duke) we came on being ready and focused," middle hitter Krista Buchholz said. "We came on saying we would win the first game."
The Tar Heels developed this attitude after dropping the first two games of Friday's match to Wake.
In both games, the Demon Deacons amassed a pair of four-point leads that UNC could not erase. Then the Tar Heels came out ready to turn the match around in the third game.
"It took us a while to see what they were doing and to figure out how to adjust our game plan," setter Eve Rackham said.
In the third game, the Tar Heels put up an early lead of their own and hung on to win 15-10 behind the strong play of hitters Laura Greene and Holly Strauss. Greene contributed 12 kills, and Strauss provided key blocks and the game-winning kill.
UNC again developed a lead in game four from a four-point serving run by defensive specialist Lisa Fryer. The Tar Heels were able to hold off the Deacons to tie the match 2-2.
Game five went point for point with neither team developing a significant lead, but in the end Wake was able to capitalize on key kills to take the match.
The Tar Heels used that bad experience as motivation against Duke.
UNC went on an early six-point tear behind the serving of sophomore Malaika Underwood and held on to its lead to take the first game. The Tar Heels carried over their strong play into the second game, also a victory.
"We finally started playing like we know we're capable," Rackham said. "We pulled it together and played like a team."
UNC tore into the Duke defense early in game three, racking up 10 points before the Blue Devils scored.
But the Tar Heels allowed Duke to score nine unanswered points and eventually tie the game 11-11. Duke then completed the comeback, winning 15-11.
"We need to keep working on staying focused during games," UNC coach Joe Sagula said.
UNC was able to regroup, and they came out strong in the fourth game to amass a 7-0 lead.
This time, UNC left no room for a Duke comeback. It pounded Dukes' defense to take the game and the match.
"This was a real important win (for us), coming off a tough loss on Friday," Sagula said. "Coming out strong and winning the first game gave us confidence. We need to continue to play at this level."
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