When the North Carolina volleyball team takes the court in Carmichael Arena tonight at 8, it will have a chance to make history.
The first opponent of the Tar Heels’ season is back-to-back-to-back national champions Penn State. The No. 1 Nittany Lions are beginning the season with a 102-game winning streak on the line, and the Tar Heels are eager to end it — even with all the odds stacked against them.
UNC head coach Joe Sagula knows that taking down a top team won’t be easy.
Last year, the Nittany Lions went 38-0, and the team hasn’t lost a match since falling to Stanford in 2007.
By comparison, UNC went 15-16 last season and didn’t receive an NCAA Tournament selection.
With Penn State’s strong offense, the outcome of the match will depend on how well the Tar Heels’ defense holds up. Sagula will look to the back row and players like sophomore setter Cora Harms to lead the team.
In her freshman season, Harms led the team with 8.43 assists per set and earned at least 25 assists per game in conference play.
Arielle Wilson, a senior middle hitter for Penn State, will be a challenge for UNC’s defense. Wilson led the nation last year in attacking percentage with a .540 average and finished first in the Big Ten for total blocks, recording 186.
To compensate for Wilson, Sagula said the team will make serving a priority.