And this time she made no mistake, winning the point, the match and the title for UNC by a score of 4-1 over No. 9 Georgia; delivering North Carolina it’s second such title in the past three years.
“I lost the national championship for us last year,” said Price in a press conference. “It came down to my match. So in my mind I was like, ‘I’m a senior, I’m going to go for it because I’ve already lost it once.’ I didn’t want to go out losing.”
The Tar Heels certainly went out winners in a tournament they dominated up until the closing stages of the championship match.
Sixteen teams entered play Friday in a single-elimination style tournament. UNC blew through its first three opponents: No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Miami and No. 2 Florida by a combined score of 13-1.
And after winning the doubles point over Georgia, combined with Hayley Carter and Whitney Kay’s straight set victories at No. 2 and No. 4 singles, respectively, UNC held a commanding 3-0 lead, needing only one more victory to secure the title.
But the Bulldogs pressed on, earning their first point at No. 6 singles and forcing decisive third sets in each of the remaining three matches.
Coach Brian Kalbas said he was proud of his team for fighting through its first stretch of adversity it had encountered over the four-day grind of the tournament.
“They’re just amazing fighters,” Kalbas said. “It looked like we were in control and then Georgia turned it around and it looked like we were in trouble in some spots. You could see the momentum switching. Caroline and Jamie (Loeb) and everybody just kept fighting and I’m just real proud of the effort. Fourth day, everybody’s tired. It’s just amazing to see what people can do when they push themselves to the limit.”
As for Price, the lone senior on a team filled with underclassmen, she can now, finally, think upon a different memory when she hears the phrase, ‘Championship point.’
“I was thinking, ‘Just gotta get one point!’ I was just trying to stay focused, calm, composed, and I just went for it.”
And this time, she got it.