The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

UNC volleyball gets payback win, advances in NCAA Tournament

Payback raced through the minds of the North Carolina volleyball players on Friday night in Carmichael Arena.

UNC was facing UNC-Wilmington in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament — the same team that defeated it in five sets back in September. 

And on Friday night, the Tar Heels' (21-9) revenge came in the form of a sweep (25-18, 25-21, 25-21) of the Seahawks. 

Early in the first set, the Seahawks (24-8) held a 4-1 advantage. But once the Tar Heels tied the set at 6, UNC-W could never regain the lead. The Seahawks closed the gap to 18-15, but UNC used a 7-3 run to take the opening set. Both teams had 14 kills, but eight attack errors plagued the Seahawks. 

The Tar Heels controlled the second set by never relinquishing the lead. UNC’s advantage eventually grew to 19-13 before the Seahawks whittled the lead to 21-20. But the Tar Heels once again escaped, this time with a 4-1 run. Senior middle hitter Paige Neuenfeldt had the last three kills of the set for North Carolina. 

UNC-W jumped out to a 16-8 lead in the third set — its largest lead of the match. But the Tar Heels used a 17-5 run to erase the deficit and win the match. 

Quotable

“I was not happy. But I was delighted to see what this team could do, to be down like that and to string along points. That set was close to being over.” — Coach Joe Sagula on UNC’s comeback in the third set. 

Notable

Neuenfeldt finished the regular season with 1.5 blocks per set, which ranked first in the ACC. Against UNC-W, the senior tallied seven total blocks. 

Three numbers that matter

2: For the second consecutive season, UNC won its opening match of the NCAA Tournament

.044: In the third and final set, the Tar Heels held UNC-W to a .044 hitting percentage, the worst percentage for either team in the game. 

0: Ties or lead changes in the second set — the Tar Heels led the set from beginning to end. 

What’s next?

UNC will face 16th-seeded Creighton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. 

@BenColey15

sports@dailytarheel.com

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