The North Carolina volleyball team defeated rival Duke, 3-1, in Durham, North Carolina, on Thursday night, securing the team's ninth win in its last 11 matches.
The Blue Devils (11-15, ACC 4-9) got off to a quick start and led the Tar Heels (12-11, 9-4 ACC) early in the first set, 4-0. North Carolina battled back to score four of the next five points and tie the match, 5-5.
Although UNC leveled up the score, Duke proceeded to go on a four-point run to take the lead, 9-5, a position the Blue Devils would maintain throughout the rest of the set. Late in the set, UNC cut the Duke lead to 21-20, but two straight kills by Duke brought the score to 23-20 before the home team earned a 25-22 win.
From there, the Tar Heels rallied to win three straight sets and secure a 3-1 win against a conference rival, the program's fifth win in its last six matches.
Early in the second set, North Carolina gained its first lead of the evening off a kill by sophomore Destiny Cox that brought the score to 3-2. After some back-and-forth action gave UNC a 9-8 lead, the Tar Heels maintained an advantage, even late in the set when Duke gave them trouble.
With the score tied, 24-24, UNC scored the final two points for the win, one off a kill by redshirt first-year Lauren Harrison and another off a bad set by Duke.
To open the third set, both teams traded points in another close start. North Carolina edged out its opponent when the Tar Heels scored two straight points off a kill from Cox and a service ace to lead 6-4. The Blue Devils tied the score late in the set, 14-14, but UNC’s first-year Skyy Howard responded a few plays later by picking up a kill and a block to help put the score at 16-16.
North Carolina went on a six-point scoring run to pull ahead, 22-16. Although the Blue Devils scored twice more in the set, UNC was able to hold off its opponent for a 25-18 win.
With the momentum on their side, the Tar Heels started off the fourth set strong. They led 13-6 early and stayed in front for the rest of the night. When Duke closed the gap and trailed 22-20, the Tar Heels called a timeout to regroup. After the break, UNC returned to rattle off three straight points, taking the set, 25-20, and the win over the Blue Devils, 3-1.
Who stood out?
Harrison shined in this match against Duke, leading both teams at 19 kills and 19.5 points. With those 19 kills, Harrison brought her total kills for the season to 273, a team-high for UNC.
In addition to Harrison, Austin also had a standout performance for North Carolina. Austin earned a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs in the match. Right behind Harrison's 19.5 points, Austin finished with 12.5, and Cox recorded 12 points in the contest.
When was it decided?
With North Carolina leading 2-1 in sets off a kill by Harrison to end the third, the Tar Heels had all of the momentum to end the match in the fourth set. That momentum carried over into the fourth set, with UNC taking an early lead and outlasting a Duke team that tried to battle back late.
Why does it matter?
With the win over Duke, North Carolina holds an away record of 4-4 on the year. With five matches left in the season, three of which are away, the win in Durham not only improved the UNC's record, but should give the Tar Heels confidence on the road as the regular season comes to a close.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to face Wake Forest on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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