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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Volleyball Takes Charge

It's hard to argue with the sign: Laura Greene, Eve Rackham, Holly Strauss and Malaika Underwood will leave behind a program that they've lifted to a level national prominence.

Three ACC championships and 341 victories are just some of the goals this group of seniors has accomplished.

"I thought it was kind of a sad day," Greene said. "It's the end of an era ... I don't know that I'm ready to give it up yet."

UNC coach Joe Sagula has seen this senior class grow into what it is today.

"They've meant so much because they've been part of the most important history in the last 15 years of this program," Sagula said. "Did I know we'd get to this level? I don't know. I knew they'd be a part of something. I didn't know how it would turn out, but I knew they would bring something special to this program."

They've done just that, bringing a winning attitude and impressive athleticism. The seniors have led the team in all categories.

Greene leads the team with 4.2 kills per game, while Underwood has blocked the most attacks with 74. Strauss is third on the team in blocks per game, while Rackham is UNC's all-time leader in assists per game.

But these seniors will take away more than great stats from their experience at UNC.

"I think my favorite memory was when we were freshman and about to play N.C. State, and Eve asked, 'Are we flying, Coach?'" Greene said. "We still give her a hard time every time we go to State."

Sagula has a special bond with this group. He recognizes that they've helped him build this program to its current status.

"We've had a lot of challenging times," Sagula said. "Everybody's always growing, adapting, learning to rebound from losses, things like that. We've had our ups and downs.You see the results, but behind the scenes there's been a lot of growth."

Their careers, regardless of the NCAA tournament, will culminate in the best year ever for North Carolina volleyball.

"We've gotten stuck in the second round every year," Greene said. "I think we can be like Gonzaga in basketball, a team that no one takes lightly, but don't necessarily expect to give them a great match. I think we're capable of making the final eight or final four."

A good showing in the NCAAs will be long overdue for this group of seniors, and they are anxious for the tournament to begin. When it's over, this group will be left with their memories and their accomplishments.

"I think we all knew by the time we got to be seniors that we had the talent and the motivation to be great," Rackham said.

"We needed to be this good (this year), and I just think it was a matter of time until we showed it to everyone else."

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