On Friday night, North Carolina volleyball (6-7, 3-2 ACC) took on Duke (11-5, 3-2 ACC) in Carmichael Arena as the Tar Heels began a 5-game home stand.
There was a ruckus crowd that showed up to the gym as they filled the entire lower level, forcing latecomers to maneuver over the roped-off upper sections. The atmosphere felt akin to that of the Dean Dome by the time of the first serve.
Coming off their loss to Georgia Tech, North Carolina’s passionate performance led them to a 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-17 victory. The match marked the 113th time the two teams have met, a rivalry that the Tar Heels now lead 59-54.
The match started out in a tight battle with fans hanging in suspense of every hit.
The Tar Heels broke out to a 10-7 advantage following back-to-back kills and a soft touch over the net by redshirt first-year Holly Carlton. However, The Blue Devils responded with a run of their own, taking a 19-16 lead before UNC Head Coach Joe Sagula took a timeout. Duke continued their run coming out of the timeout, forcing Sagula to burn another one with Duke three points away from a first set win. More late errors by North Carolina conceded the set to the Blue Devils.
The second set started like the first, as the two teams were knotted at 8 points apiece early on, before Duke began to make a run. UNC returned fire but were unable to take the lead. However, three straight errors late for the Devils allowed the Tar Heels to get back into the set. Following a timeout by Duke, North Carolina made a run from down 21-19. Redshirt junior Taylor Leath and Carlton were then able to finish three straight kills, before a service error by Duke’s Cadie Bates gave the Tar Heels set two. This key turning point for North Carolina gave them a new energy and momentum heading into set number three.
Egged on by the spirited fans, the Tar Heels started the third set by dishing out twelve kills through the first half. UNC then continued to play well, going up by a score of 22-17 late before Duke made three consecutive errors to give North Carolina the third set victory. The Tar Heels ended the set with eighteen kills, nearly doubling their kill production in either of the first two sets.
UNC’s hot play carried into the fourth, as they took a commanding 17-10 lead in the set. The Tar Heels never looked back. They went on to finish the Blue Devils off with a block by Taylor Fricano and Beth Nordhorn.
The play of Holly Carlton, who had a triple-double with thirteen kills, eleven digs, and eighteen assists, propelled North Carolina’s effort. Her performance also marks the first time a player has recorded two or more triple-doubles in a season for the Tar Heels since 1992.