The Tar Heels have some major adjustments to make, as 10 of their 19 players from the 2017 season will not be returning this year.
The team will have to deal with the graduation of Taylor Fricano, Keimaya Hunter and Beth Nordhorn, who were all key offensive players in 2017.
Nordhorn was consistent despite constant lineup changes. She led the ACC in hitting percentage and ranked ninth in blocks per set.
Fricano was a standout defensive player, helping UNC lead the ACC with 2.82 team blocks per set. The Tar Heels also lost outside hitter Taylor Leath, who led UNC in kills and points, and had the second highest number of digs and aces as an outside hitter. Leath transferred out of the program to Penn State. Without those contributors, the team will need its newer players to fill the large shoes the departures left behind.
Other notable exits include junior Taylor Borup, redshirt sophomore Holly Carlton, junior Julia Scoles, and redshirt junior Sydnye Fields, who all transferred to other universities to continue their volleyball careers.
All of these players had significant roles with the Tar Heels and their presences on the court will be hard to match. It's hard to know yet who will make a significant impact this year.
Despite losing close to half of its roster from the 2017 season, North Carolina returns a number of promising players.
UNC should expect to be strong defensively. Senior Casey Jacobs stepped up as libero last season after an injury to junior Mia Fradenburg. Junior Greer Moseman and sophomore Maddie Grace Hough will provide strength on the backline.
Jacobs, Kendra Koetter and Madison Laufenburg make up the senior class this year that will need to lead the new players and fill the voids.
The Tar Heels secured three transfer students — Hunter Atherton from Nebraska, Aristea Tontai from Coastal Carolina and Skylar Wine from Pacific. All three could strengthen the offense.
First-years Annabelle Archer, Erin Boone, Destiny Cox and Lauren Harrison were also recruited to help strengthen the Tar Heels after their 2017 losses. Along with those players, Ava Bell and Hadden LaGarde joined the Tar Heels in January and will be playing their first season with North Carolina this fall.
The regular season starts Aug. 24 in Minneapolis against No. 9 Wisconsin and continues against No. 4 Minnesota on Aug. 25 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. These tough early-season matchups will prepare new faces for a tough ACC schedule.
North Carolina should utilize its tough schedule to get its new players the necessary experience they need to grow as a program and a team in the upcoming years.
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