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The Daily Tar Heel

Seniors reflect on their careers after UNC volleyball's 3-0 loss to Florida State

volleyball fsu sagula koetter atherton
Head coach, Joe Sagula, talks players Kendra Koetter (2) and Hunter Atherton (10). UNC lost to FSU 3-0 at Carmichael Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.

Wednesday's contest against Florida State marked the final game of the 2018 season for the North Carolina volleyball team. In a finale to a season that featured a rollercoaster ride of emotions, the Tar Heels were swept, 3-0, by the Seminoles at Carmichael Arena.

One of the high points on that ride was the recognition of seniors, setter Kendra Koetter, libero Casey Jacobs and opposite hitter Madison Laufenberg before the match on Senior Day. The entire team had to be reminded that there was a match about to commence as all the players took part in a group hug for the three soon-to-be graduates.

The Tar Heels (8-19, 4-14 ACC) were heavy underdogs against the Seminoles (18-9, 14-3 ACC), but that didn’t stop North Carolina from putting up a fight. UNC jumped ahead to a quick five-point lead in the first set thanks to some big effort plays, like Koetter sliding into the scorekeeper’s table in an attempt to save a volley.

North Carolina was unable to maintain that early lead, finishing the first set with a hit percentage of just .171 compared to .378 for Florida State. Head coach Joe Sagula shared his thoughts after the game about the Tar Heels missing some key opportunities.

“In the timeout, I told the girls we have to take advantage of this,” Sagula said. “We have to make sure we’re making our serves, make sure we’re making the extra effort on defense.”

The second set was the low point on the day for North Carolina. The Tar Heels had seven attacking errors and a hitting percentage of only .032. UNC finished the season averaging 2.4 blocks per set, yet the team was only able to manage two team blocks by the end of the second set.

The final set contained a beam of hope for the Tar Heels as they came out with a strong start similar to that of the first set. The ending of this set also shared similarities to the beginning of the match, with North Carolina being unable to retain its lead and eventually falling to Florida State.

The Seminoles were led by junior outside hitter Payton Caffrey who finished with 35 total attempts and 16 kills, both team highs.

“Payton Caffrey is really good," Sagula said. "I wish she would graduate already."

Once the match had ended, the three seniors fought through tears to describe how emotional the afternoon had been for them, as well as to reflect on some of their fondest memories as Tar Heels.

“I definitely wasn’t Tar Heel born, but I promise I’ll be Tar Heel dead,” said Koetter, a transfer from Georgia Southern University who played her final two seasons with UNC. “It’s been emotional, but I learned a lot and it was a great experience. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world and I’m really proud to have represented North Carolina.”

Laufenberg similarly looked back with happiness at her time at UNC.

“I’m going to miss this group of girls so much,” Laufenberg said. “Just the little moments with your team and growing your family here.”

With the season now over, Jacobs, Koetter and Laufenberg turned their attention to what is next in store for the three of them in life.

“I’m going to go home to San Diego to decompress for a little while,” Jacobs said. “I’m ready to take a deep breath and then get back to work with grad school in the future.”

Koetter plans to stay involved in athletics with North Carolina.

“I’m starting an internship with UNC football,” Koetter said. “After graduation, my hopes are to eventually start a career in college football.”

Wherever these Tar Heels end up in the future, their wild ride at UNC is sure to be remembered for years to come.


@DTHSports |

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