Coastal Carolina found their stride in the second set, hitting .306, while the Tar Heels failed to help themselves. UNC committed five attacking errors and five more service errors.
The Tar Heels jumped out to a solid 12-5 lead in the third set, thanks in large part to the net presence of Taylor Leath and Katharine Esterley, who paired up for consecutive blocks early in the set. This time UNC managed to close out their early lead, taking the set 25-18.
Needing one more set to win the match, UNC failed to take control of the fourth set, falling behind 5-1. UNC never tied the score and Coastal Carolina won the set 25-18 to force a deciding fifth set.
UNC started out hot in the match’s final set, taking a 6-3 lead thanks largely to three kills from redshirt senior Taylor Fricano. After a Coastal Carolina timeout, the Tar Heels built on their momentum, extending the lead to 10-6.
Despite a Coastal Carolina timeout late in the set, the Tar Heels closed the match out on a Mia Fradenburg service ace, winning the final set 15-8.
Who stood out?
The Tar Heels found contributions up and down their lineup as head coach Joe Sagula played nearly every player on the roster.
Holly Carlton posted a triple-double in kills, assists, and digs. The redshirt first-year’s 25 assists led the Tar Heels.
Taylor Leath once again led the Tar Heels in kills with 19. Leath, last season’s ACC Player of the Year, also provided 13 digs – good for another double-double.
Sagula also praised Mia Fradenburg for her persistent defense. Fradenburg was all over the court defensively and led the Tar Heels with 22 digs while adding a service ace in the match’s final point.
When was it decided?
Fricano and Leath’s dominant hitting in the fifth set put the Tar Heels in front for good, though this match was so back and forth, the final result was in doubt until Fradenburg’s final serve was batted out of play by the Chanticleers.
Why does it matter?
This match served as the Tar Heels final non-conference contest of the season as they kick off ACC play against rivals NC State on Friday.
After dropping Friday’s match against Loyola Marymount, Sagula’s team needed a victory to salvage their weekend. To take the fifth set could set the tone moving forward with a tough weekend of conference play ahead.
Sagula was encouraged by his team’s ability to close out the decisive set, but he said that the Tar Heels’ inconsistencies left a lot of progress still to be made with a full conference schedule ahead.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Raleigh to face North Carolina State in their first conference game of the season on Friday at 7 p.m.