The North Carolina volleyball team (6-2, 6-2 ACC) sealed a 3-1 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers (1-8, 0-8) for the second time this weekend, solidifying the team's place in the top third of the ACC rankings.
From its start, the first set was evenly matched between the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers. With several early service errors, UNC relied on its offense to put points on the board. First-year setter Maylen Mitrovich and junior setter Annabelle Archer were able to spread the Tar Heel offense out across the front row, with junior Destiny Cox totaling four kills on the set and first-year outside hitter Aziah Buckner putting four kills on the board.
The Tar Heels opened the second set with an impressive kill by Buckner. Archer was able to put pressure on the Cavalier defense at the service line with an ace midway through the set. The score stayed relatively close until the last five points. Due to back-to-back errors from North Carolina, Virginia was able to close the second set with a win, 25-22.
UNC redeemed itself in the third set with a final score of 25-17 over the Cavaliers. Mitrovich totaled two aces in the set, and sophomore libero Karenna Wurl boasted back-to-back aces for a final push from the Tar Heels. After Wurl’s service run, UNC was able to separate itself from UVa’s attacks and close out the set.
The Tar Heels started off the fourth set slow, allowing Virginia to take an early 7-2 lead. After a series of long rallies between the two teams, the Tar Heels were able to dig themselves out of the hole, coming back within one point. However, a series of offense errors for the Tar Heels in conjunction with impressive attacks by the Cavaliers, UNC found itself plagued by another deficit. A service run by first-year Sydney Reed allowed North Carolina to catch up, and sophomore Carly Peck was able to close out the match with a kill off of the Cavalier block for a final score of 25-23.
Who stood out?
Peck provided an offensive spark for the Tar Heels late in the match. After trailing by a margin of five points in the fourth set, she greatly contributed to the UNC offense when it needed it most, totaling eight kills in the fourth set alone. By the end of the match, Peck led the team in kills, coming up with 16 kills in the match.
When was it decided?
From the beginning, the Tar Heels were matching the pace of the Cavaliers, keeping the scores close in three of the four sets played in the match. Going into the fourth set, however, the Tar Heels had work to do, as they allowed Virginia to take a notable lead. This fourth set was a series of runs from both teams, but was eventually put away by the Tar Heels with an impressive kill by Peck.
Why does it matter?
With this win, the Tar Heels are tied for third in the ACC with Duke. Ranked seventh in the ACC preseason coaches poll, UNC has earned its spot in the top third of the ACC rankings. This puts UNC in a commendable position for the upcoming spring season that will run from January through April with the NCAA selection show on April 4. In addition, North Carolina improved to a 6-2 conference record on the season.
When do they play next?
Due to the abbreviated season because of COVID-19, this was the final match for the Tar Heels this year before the team resumes play in January.
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