The Tar Heels didn't panic, as sophomore Jack Murray and junior Brett Clark were able to rally and win in their next two sets to knot the overall score at 3-3.
“After the first set I had a lot of energy left and told myself that I would fight for every point,” Clark said. “(Associate head coach) Tripp (Phillips) and I were able to come up with a great strategy and I was fortunate to get off to a good start in the third set and just kept my foot on the gas pedal.”
With Clark’s victory all eyes were on 24th-ranked Schneider and Virginia Tech’s 45th-ranked junior Andreus Bjerrehus as they battled in a critical third set that would determine the team’s fate.
As Schneider struggled to hold serve, Bjerrehus took the third set 6-3 in a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory that secured the win for the Hokies.
“I’ve had experience in that situation before so I was able to stay focused,” Schneider said. “I could have done better but Andreus played big and hit some great shots and you really have to give him credit.”
Although Schneider defeated Bjerrehus in straight sets earlier this year in the ITA, he was quick to point out the improvements that Bjerrehus made in his game since their last meeting.
“I think it’s always hard to beat an opponent that you’ve already beaten,” Schneider said. “I could have made things easier on myself but Andreus has a great serve and he has really improved his forehand and made it a lot more consistent.”
Even in defeat, the Tar Heels had a lot to be proud of after fighting back and forcing three singles matches into the third set.
“I’d give our team a lot of credit and I thought we showed a lot of heart by getting back into those matches,” Schneider said. “It stinks that we lost, but we still have the most important part of our season and there’s no one I’d rather have out there than these guys.”
Despite the third straight loss, the Tar Heels are still excited for what lies ahead.
“We’re not panicked,” Clark said. “We’ve had some injuries and have done our best without Brayden (Schnur) out there, but we know when everyone is healthy, we can beat anyone in the country.”