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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels' Kills Trouble Terrapins

After winning the first five points of the match, the Tar Heels never looked back and cruised to a 3-0 win against Maryland.

Senior Melissa Higgins' serving sparked UNC's quick start. Higgins tallied two aces in the five-point streak on her way to five aces in the match.

"She had one of her best nights," UNC coach Joe Sagula said. "We need to score points on our serve. To get some easy points like that really gets your team some momentum, quick momentum, and takes some pressure off other parts of the game."

The Tar Heels (8-3, 2-0 in the ACC) fed off the energy gained from the early lead. Setter Malaika Underwood racked up three kills, five assists, and three blocks to pace UNC in game one.

Freshman middle hitter Katie Wright frustrated Maryland (3-5, 0-1) early in the first game with two blocks in three points.

"I always love going in and getting blocks; it just pumps the whole team up," Wright said. "I come down off the block, and I'm just so excited."

Later in the first game, Wright had back-to-back kills to give the Tar Heels a 23-14 lead that they would not relinquish.

"(Wright) adds a lot of energy to this team," Sagula said. "She hits a really powerful ball."

Holly Strauss stepped up to lead the Tar Heels in the second game. With the score tied at 4, UNC went on an 8-0 run, highlighted by Strauss' two blocks and one kill.

Maryland fought back to cut the Tar Heels' lead to six, but Strauss responded with three kills in four points to spark another North Carolina rally. UNC won eight of the next 10 points to take a 21-9 lead en route to a 30-16 victory.

"(Holly's) a warrior out there for us, and we started her in the front row tonight so that she could get us going," Sagula said. "She did exactly what I wanted -- blocked and hit real well and played like a veteran out there."

The Terrapins briefly came to life in the third game. UNC made four early errors, and Maryland took a 7-4 lead. But UNC outside hitter Laura Greene took over the game and hit three key kills in a 4-1 UNC run. The third kill electrified the crowd and the Tar Heels. The Maryland front was caught out of position, and Greene capitalized by slamming the ball inside the Terrapin 10-foot line.

Maryland continued to battle, tying the game at 15. But UNC put the game out of reach, winning five consecutive points and 10 of the next 11.

"We're in a great spot," Strauss said. "I think we have nothing to lose this year."

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