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The Daily Tar Heel

Even coming off its worst losing streak of the season, the North Carolina volleyball team feels just as confident as ever going into its final three matches.

That’s because this time, the Tar Heels (21-9, 12-5 ACC) will be back in familiar and comfortable territory, playing Clemson, Georgia Tech and N.C. State in Carmichael Arena.

The team has built up a home-court record of 12-2 this season, an improvement from last year’s 8-4 mark. Redshirt senior middle hitter Christine Vaughen said the team is ready to add three more victories to its record.

“We’ve had a lot of success and we’ve been able to play our way when we’re at home,” she said.

Recent matches on the road proved challenging for the Tar Heels, who fell to Florida State and Miami last weekend. These matches came after a loss against Duke on Nov. 6, tarnishing the team’s otherwise solid record.

Coach Joe Sagula said that although the team fought hard during those matches, there are areas that need improvement before the team takes on Clemson Friday night.

“We’re trying to fix the fact that we’re a little bit of a slow-starting team,” he said. We have a fighting spirit and we don’t give up, but sometimes we put ourselves in positions where it’s too late.”

That’s exactly what happened during the team’s loss to Florida State Nov. 12. The Tar Heels gave up an early lead in the first and second sets and eventually succumbed to the Seminoles in five sets.

But even the with the losses, the Tar Heels are still No. 22 in the RPI, and the team is second only to Duke in the ACC rankings.

As the team prepares to face the Tigers — the top blocking team in the ACC — Sagula said the team knows where to place its focus.

“We need to go around the block with sharper angles, and we need to hit a lot of off-speed shots to put pressure on them,” Sagula said.

Senior outside hitter Courtney Johnston said it will be bittersweet to play her final home matches of the season, but she also thinks the team is more than capable of finishing strong going into post-season play.

“I would say this season’s not over,” Johnston said. “If we finish the way we want to finish, it will have been a successful season.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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