N.C. State limped into Carmichael Arena with a 2-9 record in its past 11 games while North Carolina was riding an 11-game winning streak. The perfect opportunity for an upset.
And after holding a 24-22 lead in a close third set, senior outside hitter Lauren McAdoo slammed the ball to an N.C. State setter, causing it to ricochet off her hand and out of bounds — trap avoided.
The Tar Heels (21-2, 12-1 ACC) won their 12th victory in a row by sweeping N.C. State (14-12, 3-10 ACC) for the second time this season. UNC defeated N.C. State on Oct. 17 at Reynolds Coliseum.
Like it has all season long, the Tar Heels relied heavily on their blocking to push past the Wolfpack. UNC put up 16.5 blocks in the match, eight of them coming in the first set.
“We blocked really well tonight,” McAdoo said. “I looked up at one time at the scoreboard and there was like 15.5 blocks and I was like ‘OK.’ Our defense was good for the most part.”
Junior middle blocker Paige Neuenfeldt led the team with 5.5 blocks and redshirt senior outside hitter Chaniel Nelson added 2.5 blocks of her own.
Through the first two sets, the Tar Heels dominated N.C. State.
In the first and second set, the Wolfpack was held to a -.147 and .136 hitting percentage, respectively. UNC opponents have managed just a .156 hitting percentage this season.
But in the third set, UNC lost some of its edge. The Tar Heels had a hitting percentage of just .054 along with 10 attack errors. Eight of the errors came in the first 15 points.
McAdoo said in the third set, N.C. State came out of the locker room with more intensity and UNC responded with unforced errors.
“(N.C. State) started picking up their defense and blocking while we were making a lot of hitting errors and giving them a lot of easy points,” McAdoo said.
But the Tar Heels answered back and ended the third with a quick 3-0 run to win the match.
Coach Joe Sagula said the sweep was significant because now the team can focus on a more important mission — beating Florida State today in Carmichael Arena.
“It’s something to value and not to look past when you win 3-0,” Sagula said. “We’ve had a bunch of them and everyone is starting to get spoiled, thinking it’s easy, but it’s not.
“It’s really, really big when you can win 3-0, because N.C. State was good enough to come back in that third set and when that happens anything can happen, so it’s good that we can get the match done and be ready now for Florida State.”