The Tar Heels bounced back with a sweep of second-place Duke on Friday, but Sagula didn't expect his team's resilience to be tested again in Saturday's match against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons shocked the Tar Heels with a 3-1 win.
UNC (18-5, 10-2 in the ACC) had a week to get ready for the rival Blue Devils (16-3, 8-3), and its extra preparation showed.
Nicole Reis had six kills and notched a .385 hitting percentage to help the Tar Heels capture a hard-fought first game 30-28.
Laura Greene preserved UNC's victory with a one-handed diving dig on the final point, and outside hitter Molly Pyles finished the point with a strong kill.
North Carolina had to play most of the second game without Reis, who injured her shin at the end of the first game. Pyles and Malaika Underwood came up with four kills apiece in Reis' absence, and Greene led the team with six kills as UNC edged Duke 30-28.
"Nicole's definitely our strongest offensive weapon," Greene said. "Without her on the court, somebody's got to step up."
Reis came back in a big way in the third game. She smashed 10 kills as the Tar Heels cruised to a 30-24 victory. With the score tied at five, the Tar Heels took control with a 5-0 run, then won 17 of the next 20 points. Reis served for seven consecutive points at the end of the rally to give UNC a 21-8 lead.
"Nicole gave us a huge lift in that third game," Sagula said. "She just pounded the ball. They didn't have an answer for that.
"They made some unforced errors early, and we got into a good rhythm."