The North Carolina volleyball team (13-11, 10-4 ACC) swept Wake Forest (11-14, 1-13 ACC) on Sunday afternoon, extending UNC’s win streak to three games while handing the Demon Deacons their 11th straight loss.
Early in the first set, both teams were evenly matched, tied at 7-7 before UNC went on a 5-1 run and never looked back. From aces and clean sets to strong blocks and kills, the Tar Heels had solid contributions from everyone and took the first set 25-19.
The second set started similarly, with Wake Forest and UNC trading points until 15-all, where North Carolina then went on a 3-0 run, eventually going up 22-18. The set ended 25-20 on a successful challenge call by North Carolina, and they took a commanding 2-0 lead.
In the third set, the Tar Heels stepped out to an early 4-0 lead and forced a timeout by the Demon Deacons. Both teams battled hard, but North Carolina proved to be the best team and they secured the victory 25-21.
Wake Forest’s .149 hitting percentage for the match is a mark of how good North Carolina’s defense is and how the players have really started to hit their strides.
“We’re delighted about the 3-0 result," said head coach Joe Sagula. "For us right now to be able to sustain our level of play in the grind of the season and to come out with a win I think is really good. I’m really proud of the team.”
Who stood out?
A lot of Tar Heels stood out on Sunday. Parker Austin led the team with 13 kills and added three blocks, Skyy Howard had seven kills and Destiny Cox had six kills.
However, the biggest story was the return of defensive specialist Mia Fradenburg after missing three games due to injury. She came back and instantly boosted the team’s play with outstanding numbers of 16 digs and two service aces.
"The other big thing about today was the return of Mia Fradenburg," Sagula said. “She played great, served really effectively and really was an anchor for us passing. She really did a fantastic job”
When was it decided?
After going up two sets to nothing, North Carolina held a firm advantage. The Deacons at one point cut the lead to just on in the third set, but were unable to every go ahead of the Tar Heels before the last set was finished by a kill by Howard.
Why does it matter?
This win was significant because it puts UNC in a four-way tie for second place in the ACC along with Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Florida State. After starting off the season 1-7, North Carolina is now on a 12-4 tear and Sagula believes this team is really coming together thanks to the growth of the team and leadership from seniors.
“The leadership provided by Mia Fradenburg, Katharine Esterley and the rest of our seniors Skylar Wine and Greer Moseman, they came every day setting the tone for practice and allowed our team to believe that if we stay with it, we’ll get things going,” Sagula said.
“So many people have contributed, and during that time we’ve had as much as 11 different people make big contributions to the success of this team. You can’t say it’s resting on one or two people. It has been a lot of people who have emerged and grown and matured and it’s great to see that for now and the future.”
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels play a conference match against Florida State next Sunday at 1 p.m. in Tallahassee, Florida.
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