Madison Laufenberg, sophomore outside hitter: During the scrimmage, Laufenberg dominated the net through both blocks and kills, flashing the Tar Heel power Sagula admired. A continuation of this explosiveness would be crucial to UNC’s success.
Taylor Fricano, redshirt junior middle hitter: Sagula said he moved Fricano to the middle position — where Neuenfeldt and McPherson once played. As the team works to replace its heralded middle block, Fricano will prove vital in maintaining a dominant formation.
When is their biggest game?
As the three-time ACC preseason favorites, the Tar Heels will have the chance to prove their spot as the top dogs in the conference on Oct. 7 against Florida State. The Seminoles came in at No. 2 in the preseason poll, with 182 votes to UNC’s 194.
What is their biggest weakness?
The team has a tough task ahead — filling the void left by Neuenfeldt, McPherson, Leigh Andrew and other valuable players who graduated after the 2015 season. While the incoming recruits are talented and have the potential to develop as the season progresses, the team can’t replace that experience on the court left behind by its star trio. Returning players like Treacy and Fricano have to step up in skill and in leadership for this team to return to the dominance of prior seasons.
Why could they win it all?
Though UNC has to recover from the loss of its former stars, depth is still a strength for the Tar Heels — especially with impressive incoming recruits like Scoles and Holly Carlton, who drew Sagula’s attention for her strong setting and hitting.
As the younger players tap into their potential, Sagula said seniors have set an example of hard work in practice.
Combine that dynamic with the power and defensive prowess of this team, and the mix of motivated leaders and talented recruits could prove deadly.