With UNC’s (26-2, 17-1 ACC) victory over Wake Forest (16-16, 6-12 ACC), the Tar Heels clinched their 12th ACC title in school history.
Before sweeping the Demon Deacons, UNC had secured a share of the conference championship by defeating No. 21 Duke (22-7, 14-4 ACC) in five sets on Wednesday.
The Tar Heels finished the regular season by winning 17 straight conference matches after losing their first ACC game against Florida State on Sept. 26. The ACC title is UNC’s first since 2008.
“The fact that you get to do this at home and with a high level of expectation and pressure with a big match on Wednesday and (Friday) as well, is special,” Coach Joe Sagula said. “I’m just so proud of everybody.”
The Blue Devils and Demon Deacons were determined to make UNC work for the ACC crown. Both matches witnessed a combined 55 ties and 22 lead changes. But the Tar Heels responded by notching a 0.271 and 0.378 hitting percentage versus Duke and Wake Forest, respectively.
In the match against Duke, senior libero Ece Taner had a career-high 30 digs and then added eight more versus the Demon Deacons on Friday.
Taner said she’s wanted a title for four years. And when her wish finally came true, the feeling was surreal.
“It feels so amazing. I can’t describe how proud I am to make an impact on this program and leave something for other teammates,” Taner said. “And when I come back and watch them compete, I get to see the banner and say, ‘Wow, I did something here.’ That’s everything you could ask for.”
Now, the Tar Heels have their eyes set on the NCAA Tournament.
UNC is seeded seventh nationally and will be playing Hampton to open the tournament Friday. The Tar Heels will be hosting first and second round matches for the first time since 2005.
But to redshirt senior opposite hitter Chaniel Nelson, the ordering of the bracket doesn’t concern her.
She said the team is simply prepared to win and is looking to make history.
“I don’t know anything about brackets, to be honest that’s more for coach,” Nelson said.
“Right now we’re just looking to play some good volleyball and make it as far as this program has ever gone.”