In a Halloween night match against Virginia, the North Carolina volleyball (5-2, 5-2 ACC) team came out swinging against the Cavaliers (1-7, 0-7 ACC) behind strong play from its young players, winning the match 3-1.
Its been an impressive season for the young team, with only one senior on the team this year. The Tar Heels welcomed four new first-years to the team this year, while saying goodbye to three seniors from last season.
"Coming into the season, we lacked leadership, because we lost so many seniors," sophomore Parker Austin said.
Still, Austin said that gave the younger players more opportunities to play and grow. Austin led the team with 22 kills during the match on 42 total attacks, along with two aces and five digs.
UNC started off hot by winning the first two sets, dominating the second game and pulling away for a 25-15 victory with Austin ending the set with a streak of three kills.
The Cavaliers and the Tar Heels fought back-and-forth during the third game, keeping an extremely close score for the majority of the set. Ultimately, the Cavaliers pulled out as the winner, taking the game 25-23 for their only set victory of the night.
The fourth set continued the fight, as both teams battled back-and-forth for points. As the end of the final game neared, the Tar Heels started to slowly pull away, leading 21-14. UNC closed the set 25-20, sealing the match victory against the Cavaliers.
The Tar Heels finished the match strong with 64 kills, while the Cavaliers finished with just 47.
"You never know what you’re going to get with such a young team," head coach Joe Sagula said. “They know we will just keep getting better.”
Junior Annabelle Archer said her favorite aspect of the team's dynamic is watching the new players get something right in the match they’ve been working towards in practice. With all their first-years, the Tar Heels will have the next two to three years to continue to work together on their chemistry.
"If we have a lead, we need to capitalize and not get comfortable with any opponent," Archer said. "It’s really important to respect Virginia. Virginia is hungry for a win.”
“It was a great team effort," Sagula said. "We had a lot of people contribute today."
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