North Carolina came out in the first set ready to play. After winning its last two matches against Wake Forest and Miami, the team was starting to gain some confidence. That extended into the first two sets.
The teams exchanged points throughout the first set, and the Tar Heels finally caught a break when they were up 18-16 and forced N.C. State to call a timeout. After the timeout, North Carolina let the Wolfpack back into the set with two errors in a row-one service and one attack. Multiple kills from junior Skylar Wine helped spur the Tar Heels to take the lead at 22-20.
But the Tar Heels have seen this scenario play out before. In multiple games this year, they have been up late in the first set and still lost. That's exactly what happened again. N.C. State scored five points in a row to win the frame and take a 1-0 set lead in the match.
The energy on the bench was restless as the Tar Heels lost a set they were poised to win. Heading into the second set, it was obvious the team was not satisfied.
The second set was hard-fought on both sides as neither team pulled away. Neither team held a lead greater than three for the whole set. Eventually, the two sides were tied at 24-24 with North Carolina serving. The Tar Heels again failed to make the plays when it counted and lost the set, 26-24, after two attack errors.
Heading back to the locker room after losing two close sets, the team looked dejected.
“We very graciously gave away two sets that we had in control that we should have won,” Sagula said. “I feel like we gifted them the first two sets and then we lost our fight.”
The team that took the court for the third set was not the same team that played the first two. Although the squad pieced together points, there was little struggle left as the players lost the third set, 25-16.
After the Tar Heels' 18th loss — the 11th time they've been swept in 2018 — players were not made available for interviews immediately after the game for the second time this season. A day later, the program organized supplemental interviews with juniors Mia Fradenburg and Skylar Wine over the phone.
“I thought we had moments where we were working really hard,” Fradenburg said on Thursday. “We’ve been emphasizing working when it gets tight.”
The Tar Heels did not see the fruits of their labor on Wednesday. After seeing growth in the prior two matches, they ultimately could not overcome their season long struggles against the Wolfpack.
The team looks forward to the final two matches against Duke and Florida State with chances to end the season on a positive note.
"Really excited to play Duke," Wine said. "We want to end the season on a positive note especially for our seniors."
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