Even though Tuesday's match was a three-game sweep, it wasn't an easy win for the North Carolina volleyball team.
The Tar Heels had to come from behind in game two and fought off a late Virginia charge in game three to defeat the Cavaliers 3-0 (15-7, 15-13,
18-16) at Carmichael Auditorium.
As the match wore on, Virginia cut its number of unforced errors and started hitting the ball harder and more accurately.
But UNC was up to the challenge. Leading 14-10 in game three, the Tar Heels finally sent an energetic Cavs team back to Charlottesville, Va., on the third match point.
"I'm really impressed that we had the character to fight off a team that really played well in the end," UNC coach Joe Sagula said.
Sagula said he was also impressed with the Tar Heels' play in game one. UNC jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead behind the hitting of outside hitters Laura Greene and Casey Simpson and the consistent passing of defensive specialist Liz Feldman.
Greene finished the match with 18 kills and 16 digs. Simpson chipped in with 16 kills and 15 digs.
"I like the fact...that we won the first game," Sagula said. "It was one of the themes we had talked about."
A quick start set the momentum for the match.
Sophomore setter Eve Rackham said jumping out early on the Cavaliers gave UNC confidence for the remainder of the match. Rackham said the team didn't want Virginia to feel like it had a chance of winning.
"We've been really concentrating on scoring a couple points and getting ahead early," said Rackham, who had a match-high 58 assists. "It's something we've been working on, and it paid off."
Still, the Tar Heels found themselves down 7-10 in game two. The return of injured freshman Nicole Reis to the rotation provided UNC with a much-needed spark.
Reis missed two matches this weekend because of a head injury. UNC lost to Wake Forest in her absence.
The Tar Heels grabbed a quick five points after Reis entered the game, taking a lead they would not relinquish.
Reis tied Greene with a team-leading 18 kills.
"I'm glad to see Nicole back in the game," Simpson said. "I think if she can stay healthy, we can pretty much ease through the ACCs."
The win improves UNC's record to to 18-4, 8-1 in the ACC.
The match also marked the beginning of the second round of conference play.
The Tar Heels will host Florida State and Maryland later this weekend.
"It was a great victory for us," Rackham said. "It was definitely one of our best matches of the year. We finally played well together."
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