For a team that has learned to perform best when battling from behind, it was nothing new.
After North Carolina dropped its first set against Wake Forest on Sunday afternoon, 25-17, the Tar Heels knew that, once again, they'd have to overcome the early deficit. However, the difference in UNC's eventual 3-2 win was sophomore outside hitter Taylor Borup.
Borup returned back to action this weekend for UNC (7-7, 4-2 ACC) after missing eight straight matches due to an injury.
“It was really fun to be back with the team at home,” she said. “To get a win made it even better.”
After a duo block by middle hitters Taylor Fricano and Katharine Esterley put the Tar Heels up 9-7, Borup substituted into the second set. It didn't take long for her to dominate offensively, as she earned North Carolina's next three points.
With an assist from setter Holly Carlton, Borup sailed the ball into the back row of the Wake Forest defense to tally her first kill of the set and further UNC’s lead to 11-8.
After a Wake Forest kill cut the lead back to two points, Borup rose into the air and responded with a kill that just barely stayed inside the back line. Setter Kendra Koetter then served the ball into the net to commit a service error, but redeemed herself with an assist to Borup for yet another kill to make the score 13-10.
Toward the end of the set, all that UNC needed to do was hold on to the 20-15 lead for a win. Borup leapt into the air and gently tipped the ball into the middle of the Demon Deacon defense to push the score to 21-15.
A point later, she countered her gentle kill with a massive slam that gave UNC a 23-17 cushion. Borup’s domination in the second set was not quite over, though.
She earned her sixth and final kill of the set to lead the Tar Heels into the set point. A point later, UNC captured the second set victory, 25-18, and tied the match at 1-1.
“She became just another weapon that we needed at a point when we were relying on others,” head coach Joe Sagula said. “I’m amazed at how well she’s playing with such limited practice time.”
The momentum stayed with North Carolina with a close 25-23 third set win, in which Borup shone again with five kills. In the fourth set, the Tar Heels fell apart and took a 25-14 loss.
Things changed for the better in the final set as everything that went wrong for UNC in the fourth set went right in the fifth. The Tar Heels finished off the Demon Deacons with a concise, match-clinching 15-5 win.
By the looks of Borup’s play this weekend, it didn't seem like she was returning from an injury. Everything went right back to normal as soon as she stepped on the court.