In Thursday’s match-up, Neuenfeldt led the team with 10 kills and a .533 hitting percentage. She was second on the team with 2.5 blocks. Through six games this season, the senior has tallied 46 kills, second to only senior Leigh Andrew — who has 50.
Coach Joe Sagula said once Neuenfeldt gained momentum, it opened up the court for several players, including redshirt freshman Taylor Leath, redshirt sophomore Taylor Fricano and redshirt junior Taylor Treacy. Each had at least seven kills versus Stanford (3-2).
“She was on her game tonight. She was such a force,” Sagula said. “I think we all looked to Paige because we’re so used to that and how emotional she is. Her play is what allowed others to play well and they responded.”
“She played like a senior today and a veteran middle — one of the best in the country.”
Treacy was second to Neuenfeldt with a .412 hitting percentage and she tied for second on the team with eight kills.
The redshirt junior said Neuenfeldt commanded attention on the court, which created opportunities for her.
“Paige is a great middle,” Treacy said. “She’s an All-American honorable mention and the blockers on the other side respect that. What that means, is whenever Paige goes in, their blockers are like ‘OK, I gotta go block her’ and the setters will shoot the ball back to us and it’s just wide open.”
Neuenfeldt said the win was important in boosting the team’s confidence, particularly new libero Tatiana Durr and the emergence of Leath, who redshirted in 2014.
But Neuenfeldt added UNC needs to keep pressing — the Tar Heels are far from satisfied.
“We’ve lost some close games to top teams, but we found a way to win tonight,” Neuenfeldt said.
“(Our team) is a scary combination — wanting to win and being a good team.”