The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday February 26th

Preview: Young UNC volleyball team can look forward to promising spring season

UNC Junior Annabelle Archer (5) sets the ball at the volleyball game against Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 at Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels won 3-1.
Buy Photos UNC Junior Annabelle Archer (5) sets the ball at the volleyball game against Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 at Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels won 3-1.

The UNC volleyball team is set to begin its spring season in Raleigh with an exhibition match at N.C. State on Feb. 13. The young, up-and-coming team will look to come out of the gates hot, hoping to continue a winning streak that began in the fall.

A different kind of season

In the past, the official college volleyball season has been in the fall, typically running from August until December. The ACC had some volleyball games during the regular season this year, but many conferences chose not to play in the fall as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With all these changes, the NCAA Division I volleyball season will continue into the spring, with this portion of the season lasting from January until April. The games played in the fall will count toward teams’ records and influence their placement in the 2020 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship, which could be good news for the Tar Heels.

In the fall, UNC went 6-2 and ended the shortened season with a 3-1 win against Virginia back in November. The win concluded a four-match winning streak for the team — a successful run that they can only hope to continue into the spring. 

A young, up-and-coming team

This North Carolina volleyball team is young, with four first-years and five sophomores on the 15-person roster. Last season, the team went 15-13, including a 12-6 record in the ACC. This is just a continuation of the team's recent improvements after a subpar 8-19 record two years ago.

The success seen in the last two years can partly be attributed to several talented first-years who joined the team last year, including middle blocker Skyy Howard, who recorded 109 total blocks and 100 block assists last season, and outside hitter Carly Peck, who was named ACC Freshman of the Week back in November 2019. 

The obvious missing piece here is former Tar Heel star Destiny Cox, who transferred to Texas A&M after the shortened fall season. But with Howard and Peck playing alongside fellow sophomores Niki Khoshatefeh, Karenna Wurl and Parker Austin, as well as four skilled first-year players, the team can still look forward to a promising spring season.

Looking forward 

UNC is scheduled to play 12 games during this upcoming spring season, bringing it to a season total of 20 games. Ten of these games will be against ACC opponents, with the other two being against Appalachian State on Feb. 18 in Carmichael Arena and at ECU on Feb. 28. 

The Tar Heels will then begin the rest of their ACC matchups on March 5 when they face Syracuse in New York. The last regular season game for UNC is scheduled for April 3 against Miami. The NCAA Championship is scheduled for April 22-24 in Omaha, Nebraska.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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