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."