Down 15-8 in the second, UNC’s Holly Carlton converted on a kill from the right side of North Carolina’s court. She stepped up and connected on a kill that whizzed by the heads of each Notre Dame defender and landed in Notre Dame’s back left corner.
That play put the life into a Tar Heel squad that make the second set competitive. However, Notre Dame’s Jemma Yeadon responded by leaping up and smacking a kill with her right hand deep into UNC’s half.
Notre Dame would go on to take the second set, 25-20, and then the third, 25-14 in a disappointing loss for North Carolina.
The stats told the story of this game. Notre Dame held sizeable advantages in kills, errors and hitting percentage. UNC had only 25 kills with 20 errors on a hitting percentage of .051. The Irish had 44 kills, 13 errors and a .287 hitting percentage.
Who stood out?
A trio of Notre Dame players performed well in the Fighting Irish’s victory. Rebecca Nunge and Yeadon battled each other on the kills leaderboard. Both ended up with 13, and Nunge recorded a hitting percentage of .478.
Nunge and Yeadon were frequently set up by Caroline Holt, who recorded 33 assists.
North Carolina's Holly Carlton had the next most assists, with 11. Carlton had perhaps the best overall performance for the Tar Heels. The redshirt-first year record three kills, 11 assists and only one error.
When was it decided?
In front of a lime green-out crowd against the lime green-clad Firing Irish, the Tar Heels huddled together on the lime green trim surrounding the court.
Having lost a long point to go down 18-22, North Carolina’s second-set deficit was four. Head coach Joe Sagula called a timeout to allow the Tar Heels to regroup. Imagine Dragon’s “Thunder” blared from the Purcell Pavilion PA system. UNC would need to bring the thunder to come back from down a set and four points.
Immediately after the timeout, UNC’s Taylor Leath provided just that. Two straight booming kills from Leath cut the deficit to just two. After trailing by as many as eight in the set, the Tar Heels had themselves a ball game.
They had played poorly, but if the they could pull out a third set they just might have a chance to win the first of a four game road trip.
Yet, just as it had done all match, UNC shot itself in the foot.
An error from Taylor Fricano slowed the UNC comeback. The Notre Dame lead extended to three. Two UNC attack errors in the last three points cost the Tar Heels the set and any hope of winning the match.
Notre Dame would go on to win the third set, 25-14, and take the match convincingly.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina, who is ranked 55th in the RPI and is fifth in the ACC standings, needs to close out the season strong to bolster its NCAA tournament resume.
The loss snapped UNC’s four game winning streak and dropped the team to 14-11.
They will finish the season with three more road games against Louisville, Wake Forest and Duke — three matches that may determine North Carolina's post-season's fate.
When do they play next?
North Carolina next plays Louisville in Louisville Sunday at 1 p.m.