After a 1-4 start, the North Carolina volleyball team battled the Italian Junior National Team in an exhibition on Monday, looking for an opportunity to hone its strengths and correct its weaknesses after a rocky start to the season.
Sixteen players saw time on the court for UNC, giving everyone a chance to gain experience. Ultimately, the Tar Heels lost the match 3-2.
Italy won the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-17. But UNC calmed down and came back strong in the third set to win 25-13, displaying the level of play that earned the Tar Heels a preseason top-10 ranking.
The fourth set was a marathon. The Tar Heels struggled to win two points in a row until Italy hit a serve and a spike out of bounds to help give UNC the victory 36-34. The fifth set was decided by two points as well, but the Tar Heels ended up on the wrong side, losing 23-21.
Italian wing spiker Paola Egonu finished the match with 24 kills, but Coach Joe Sagula thought his team did a good job slowing her down by getting as many touches on the ball as possible. The Tar Heels contested every spike, finishing with a total of 19.5 blocks.