After winning a combined one set in dismal losses to No. 23 Miami and No. 11 Florida State earlier this season, the North Carolina volleyball team was looking to redeem itself this weekend on its home court.
UNC did just that, sweeping Miami 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-18) on Friday before taking down FSU — the ACC’s top team — 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 26-24, 25-21) on Saturday.
The Tar Heels (21-4, 12-3 ACC) dominated the Hurricanes (20-4, 12-2 ACC) all three sets, with an overall hitting percentage of .382. Miami hit just .103.
And compared to UNC’s first matchup with Miami on Oct. 7 — when the Tar Heels hit just .117 percent overall — Friday’s match looked much different to coach Joe Sagula.
“This was a tale of two different teams,” Sagula said. “Who was that team (in Miami)? They were like imposters because we played so bad. This team has made great strides, in the last three weeks in particular, that have built their confidence.”
Senior outside hitter Emily McGee said her team was disappointed in its execution against Miami last time.
“We let one point turn to two points turn to three points. It was just a whirlwind of confusion and chaos and anxiety,” McGee said. “So this time we wanted to stay focused and come back with intensity and fire.”
Sophomore Lauren Adkins said UNC’s strong offensive showing was important, but it was the team’s ability to shut down Miami’s hitters that really made the difference.
“(Defense) was our major focus this week,” Adkins said. “Last time we played them and they beat us, that’s what they really killed us on — their hitting — so that’s exactly what we practiced.”
Despite playing what Sagula said was their best volleyball of the season, the Tar Heels knew the Seminoles (22-3, 13-2) would be a tougher test.
After getting swept by FSU on Oct. 5, UNC was anxious for another shot at the Seminoles.
The Tar Heels got their chance Saturday, and, after a rocky start, they made the most of it.
After dropping the first set 23-25, UNC held off each FSU run to take the next three sets and the match.
“(Florida State) beats teams because a lot of teams will get ahead and they’re able to come back,” junior Kayla Berringer said. “That’s what we had to do tonight — push through, get all the way to 25 and not stop at any point.”
But with all the confidence that comes with these big victories, Sagula said there will need to be a reality check Monday.
“We have to get back to basics and bring their egos down a little bit,” he said. “We’re not going to show up and just win, and teams aren’t going to just go away. We have to work hard to win these next matches.”
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