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Joe Sagula earns 800th win of coaching career with three-set win over Wake Forest

volleyball 800th win
Coach Joe Sagula and the Tar Heels in Carmichael Arena on Nov. 4, 2018. Photo courtesy of Brian Faggin Batista.

On Sunday in Chapel Hill, Joe Sagula finally reached a milestone he had been chasing for 10 games.

The North Carolina head coach won his 800th match as the Tar Heels defeated Wake Forest in three straight sets.

The Demon Deacons (8-18, 3-11 ACC) weren’t able to win a single set as the Tar Heels (6-17, 2-12 ACC) dominated the court with 46 kills on the day. It was the team's first win since defeating N.C. State on Sept. 26. 

“I think the team has stayed positive and looked forward to continuing to work hard, and they realized that if we just continue to stay with each other, we’ll work our way out of this," Sagula said.

Coaching Division 1 volleyball since 1981, Sagula started at Pennsylvania. From 1981 to 1989 at Penn, he won 203 matches. Following his stint at the Ivy League school, Sagula became head coach of the Tar Heels and has won 597 matches at UNC.

Sagula said the 800th win doesn’t represent why he coaches, but rather the people that have played at UNC, the players he’s coached and the people he’s worked with throughout his career.

“There’s not really been a focus on that for me, to me it’s just all about trying to get the next win, but if I look back, I’m happy that a lot of people, Tar Heels, were all around and got to do it at home – that’s a special thing, which I will remember,” Sagula said.

The Tar Heels won their first set by staying aggressive and disciplined, which gave them a sense of relaxation as they moved into the second and third sets. The momentum continued to build throughout the second set, as North Carolina won by a score of 25-20.

However, by the third set Wake Forest was starting to muster a comeback. But the Tar Heels were able to win the set by serving tough, with the assistance of junior libero Mia Fradenburg. UNC took the final frame, 26-24.

“I didn’t doubt for a minute that we could come back and win it, I think just things weren’t going our way, but we were patient with it and we stuck with it,” Fradenburg said.

Additionally, junior outside hitter Skylar Wine managed to have three kills in the third set alone and eight kills throughout the entire match. Wine said one of the key factors that contributed to the Tar Heels winning was that they weren’t overly concerned with what the Demon Deacons were doing.

“I think we just stayed steady; I think we just didn’t worry about what they were doing, we just worried about keeping doing what we were doing well,” Wine said.

Fradenburg said the team needs to have more consistency throughout the sets, with a focus on the beginning, middle and end.

“I think we know what it feels like to win again, and I think that’s going to help us to keep improving to finish the season strong and set up a good offseason for us,” Fradenburg said. “We’re not trying to think of next season yet; we still want to focus on finishing this season out strong, especially for our seniors.”

Sagula wants the team to use this match as a learning experience for the rest of the season and to not think of what will happen in the future, but rather of who they are playing in the moment.

“I told the team, this match wasn’t 800, this was one," Sagula said. "This is the start of what we want to finish with this year."

The Tar Heels get a week to rest and then play against Miami on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. in Chapel Hill.

@markburnett1234

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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