Sagula said the match was critical for the Tar Heels' confidence after a
road loss to Pittsburgh this past Sunday — UNC's first ACC loss in over a year. He also attributed the team's impressive energy to playing at home in front of ESPN cameras and a rowdy crowd.
No player channeled that energy more than senior Paige Neuenfeldt, who converted 11 kills on 13 attempts and added four blocks. And when UNC needed her most, Neuenfeldt stepped up, producing three critical kills to close out the first set.
But Neuenfeldt was quick to credit her teammates for the team's success.
“I really think everyone is contributing and they’re finding their niche,” she said. “People are getting better at learning their roles and we’re doing it well now.”
Although Sagula said the players and coaches needed to be patient to turn the season around, he noted that a win over a rival is still something to appreciate.
“This is a good one,” he said. “I want them to feel good about this and celebrate this and enjoy it.”
“Any time you’re playing your rival and you can get this kind of crowd
and win 3-0, it’s an amazing, amazing feeling for this team. It’s a big confidence-booster.” — Sagula on the importance of Friday's win.
After losing to Duke twice in 2013, North Carolina has now defeated Duke in each of the past three meetings.
Three numbers that matter
11.5: Team blocks for the Tar Heels, who led the ACC in that category heading into Friday's match. Duke recorded only one team block during the match.
20: The Blue Devils had 20 attack errors on Friday, while North Carolina committed just six such errors.
17: Friday's win marked UNC's 17th straight conference victory at Carmichael Arena.
UNC hosts Wake Forest at 5 p.m. on Friday at Carmichael Arena.