The North Carolina women’s soccer and volleyball teams are projected to pick up where they left off, according to ACC preseason coaches polls released on Friday.
Fresh off being crowned ACC champion last season, North Carolina volleyball was unanimously picked to reclaim its conference title in 2017. This marks the third consecutive year in which North Carolina has been selected as the favorite to take home the ACC Championship, and it’s the first time any team has been a preseason unanimous selection since Florida State in 2013.
Sophomore Julia Scoles and redshirt junior Taylor Leath were named preseason All-ACC first-teamers, and senior Taylor Fricano was a second-team selection.
Last season, the Tar Heels put together arguably the best campaign the program has ever seen. They beat three top-10 teams en route their 29-4 (19-1 ACC) record, and they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
This upcoming season, North Carolina is returning strong outside hitters, including last season’s ACC Player of the Year (Leath) and ACC Freshman of the Year (Scoles). Still, these Tar Heels will need to replace several starters who graduated this past spring, including Taylor Treacy — who finished third on the team in kills and second in blocks — and Sheila Doyle, the team’s former starting libero.
The women’s soccer team is projected to finish second in the ACC and has two preseason All-ACC selections in sophomore forward Bridgette Andrzejewski and junior forward Jessie Scarpa. Nationally, North Carolina sits at No. 6, adding to the six ACC squads in the nation’s preseason top 25.
Last season, these Tar Heels went 17-4-4 (6-2-2 ACC), finishing fourth in the ACC and advancing to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost a heartbreaker to West Virginia.
This year, North Carolina plans to improve on its offensive efficiency, an area that certainly hindered the Tar Heels throughout most of the 2016 season. They are returning an attacking third that is unquestionably more tested than last year’s, and the addition of Scarpa — who chose to redshirt the 2016 season to play for the U.S. U-20 national team last fall — should also notably increase the team’s offensive production.
North Carolina volleyball kicks off its season on Aug. 25 at Minnesota, and UNC’s women’s soccer team begins its season on Aug. 18 versus Duke.