An ace from redshirt sophomore Hunter Atherton followed by an emphatic spike from Wine finally tied the score at 19-19. It was just the second tie of the set to that point, with the first coming at 2-2. The spike was one of 15 team-leading kills Wine accumulated over the course of the match.
With the Tar Heels leading 24-23, first-year hitter Ava Bell came up with the set-winning kill to combat a 3-0 run from UNCG.
The second set gave Tar Heels fans some sense of déjà vu. UNC continued to give up points on long rallies and found themselves down 8-4 early. The team struggled with long vollies throughout the night, but head coach Joe Sagula was not overly concerned.
“Last week we won most of those," Sagula said. "Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. There are so many balls and touches it’s hard to coach a long rally, some days you win those, some days you don’t."
The Tar Heels came back quickly, reclaiming the lead at 13-12, and the Spartans never led again in the set.
By the end of the second frame, Wine was again making her presence felt, earning a point in an important late rally with a powerful kill. It was the second of three straight points that propelled the Tar Heels to a 25-22 victory in the second set.
Although it was still close, UNC finally gained control in the third frame. After opening the set at 3-3, Wine gave the Tar Heels the lead on a powerful spike. She quickly took over the set, earning eight kills along the way.
“I thought Skylar Wine was awesome for us tonight," Sagula said. "Fifteen kills and no errors, you’d love to see that every night."
UNC began to flex its muscles behind Wine’s exceptional effort and took its largest lead of the match at 21-15. The Spartans made the Tar Heels work hard for every point but were unable to mount a comeback.
Senior outside hitter Madison Laufenberg recorded two of her three kills on the night to ice the match for the Tar Heels, giving them a 25-19 victory and clinching the 3-0 sweep.
UNC’s ability to pull out this win was an encouraging sign for Sagula.
“The team was confident taking good swings and executing what we worked on in practice," the coach said. "Nobody ever hung their head, and we did enough things to get [UNCG] to make some mistakes tonight.”
The win was not just significant because of the fight the team showed, but also because it was the first of the season for the Tar Heels.
“Defending Carmichael is one of our team goals this year," Wine said. "And that's just really important to us and what we do.”
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