No. 14 Florida State has seen defeat this season, dropping two matches to No. 23 Tennessee and No. 2 Florida, but it hasn’t seen a loss like this one in a long time.
The North Carolina volleyball team snapped the Seminoles’ 19-game ACC winning streak in a narrow five-set victory (18-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 16-14) Thursday.
The win kept the Tar Heels perfect in conference and improved their overall record to 13-4.
Senior outside hitter Courtney Johnston said she never doubted the team’s ability to take on the nationally ranked Seminoles (11-3, 3-1 ACC).
“There was never any time when we were preparing for this match that we didn’t think we could win it,” she said.
And it seemed like Johnston didn’t doubt herself either. She registered a career-high 22 kills and contributed 23 points to the Tar Heels.
UNC, tied with Florida State 2-2 entering the deciding set, took the fifth frame 16-14 after Johnston sealed the Seminoles’ fate with a final kill that sent the Carmichael faithful into an uproar.
UNC seemed to have shaken off the serving troubles that afflicted it earlier in the season during the opening set of the match. They recorded zero service errors in the set and allowed only five during the match.
But the team struggled with its passing game, digging ball after ball out of bounds on the Seminoles’ side of the court. To add to UNC’s troubles, the Seminoles held the Tar Heels to a .071 hitting percentage in the first set.
In the second set, the Tar Heels’ progress was stifled by the Seminoles’ improved blocking game. FSU notched seven total team blocks to UNC’s three.
North Carolina jumped out to an early lead in the third set, but FSU remained within striking distance. The Tar Heels eventually dropped the set, losing 25-18.
Sophomore setter Cora Harms registered the first kill of the fourth set. The set was a close contest, but UNC ultimately took control, winning the set 25-22.
North Carolina looked confident going into the fifth set. Senior middle blocker Christine Vaughen had a strong performance at the net, sending the ball to the floor amid a cluster of Seminoles.
Johnston tied the score at 14-14 with a kill, and a nervous crowd of more than 700 fans got on its feet for the final moments of the match, which she finished with her 22nd kill of the game.
North Carolina will take on its next ACC opponent Friday night against the Miami Hurricanes.
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