The North Carolina volleyball team closed out a perfect weekend on Sunday afternoon, sweeping Syracuse (25-23, 25-16, 26-24) at Carmichael Arena.
The Tar Heels (12-10, 9-5 ACC) started strong, taking a 4-0 lead in the first set. Syracuse (17-10, 9-5 ACC) rallied from 4-0, 15-10 and 22-18 deficits, tying the set at 23. However, UNC finally closed out the opening set on Taylor Borup’s kill at 24-23 to take an early lead.
In the opening set, the Tar Heels hit just .125, but managed five total team blocks to earn the hard-fought set.
The second set came more easily to UNC, as a 9-2 run midway through put the set out of reach and gave the Tar Heels a 23-13 lead. UNC closed out the set, 25-16, thanks to a kill from Kathrine Esterley to put the Tar Heels a set away from their second consecutive sweep.
Head coach Joe Sagula said the second set was one of his team’s best sets of the season, as the Tar Heels defended solidly and hit .355.
UNC looked well on its way to another easy victory, leading 24-18 in the match’s third set. However, Syracuse defended six consecutive set points on Annie Bozzo’s serve to level the score at 24.
However, after Taylor Borup’s kill gave UNC another match point, the Tar Heels managed to close out their sweep when Santita Ebangwese’s attack fell into the net, giving UNC a 26-24 third set victory.
Who stood out?
Sagula praised the Tar Heels’ defense overall, which was led by Casey Jacobs at libero. The junior filled in for the injured Mia Fradenburg, and said she found out she would be playing libero just 20 minutes before the match. Jacobs led the team with 24 digs.
Sagula also commended Kendra Koetter’s defense. The junior tallied a double-double in assists and digs. Her 18 assists led the Tar Heels, while her 10 digs were second on the team.
Offensively, Esterley led the Tar Heels with one solo block and seven block assists. Taylor Leath accounted for 12.5 points and 11 kills, both of which led the team.
Why does it matter?
After being swept in three straight games on the road, this 3-0 win was the Tar Heels’ second sweep in as many games over the weekend.
Sagula said his team focused on practicing and defense after the past three defeats, and this showed in what Esterley said was the Tar Heels’ best defensive performance of the season.
The win also preserved UNC’s perfect ACC record at home. In conference play, the Tar Heels are 8-0 at home in and 1-5 on the road.
Who do they play next?
The Tar Heels will host Georgia Tech on Thursday, Nov. 9, at Carmichael Arena at 6:30 p.m.
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