On Sunday afternoon at Carmichael Arena, the UNC volleyball team defeated Wake Forest in three sets, its first victory in 11 matches. The win was head coach Joe Sagula’s 800th of his career.
The Tar Heels (6-17, 2-12 ACC) started off strong, going on a 10-2 scoring run midway through the first set. First-year Destiny Cox made Wake Forest (8-18, 3-11 ACC) aware of her presence very early on, getting seven kills in the first set.
The Tar Heels had a very balanced performance on both sides of the ball. North Carolina stayed on the offensive, getting more attacks than Wake Forest in two of the three sets, while also holding their opponent to just a .038 hit percentage in the second set.
Wake Forest started the third game off with a bang, jumping out to a quick 10-3 lead due to multiple attacking errors on the UNC side. Sagula made a bold coaching play by subbing out Cox, but it paid off as the Tar Heels finished on a 23-14 run to win the match.
“I didn’t doubt for a minute that we could come back and win,” junior Mia Fradenburg said. “Things just weren’t going our way, but we were patient with it and we stuck with it.”
Who stood out?
Cox led all players with both 13 kills and 29 total attacks. Junior Skylar Wine had a well-rounded performance with eight kills and eight digs. Fradenburg had the second most digs in the match (13), bringing her team-leading total for the season to 296.
Sagula also identified another player who had major contributions to the win.
“Early in the match, I thought Katharine Esterley was really a force,” said Sagula. “The numbers don’t really reflect that, but I thought her intensity helped this team significantly.”
When was it decided?
The second set was a game-changer for the Tar Heels. They had an incredible defensive effort, limiting Wake Forest to just nine kills on 26 total attacks. Meanwhile, North Carolina had five more kills on only four more attacks.
Why does it matter?
Going into the match against Wake Forest, UNC was on a 10-match losing streak. With the victory, the Tar Heels simultaneously snapped that streak and granted Sagula the joy of earning his 800th career win, including his time at both Penn and North Carolina. Sagula is now only three wins from reaching his 600th win as a coach at UNC.
“This is a testament to all the people who have played here at North Carolina and been a part of this journey with me,” Sagula said. “We really made a point and wanted to get it done today.”
When do they play next?
North Carolina will face off against Miami in another ACC matchup on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. at Carmichael Arena.
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