In the team's first competitive match in over three months, the North Carolina volleyball team opened its spring half of the schedule on Thursday night with a decisive 3-0 victory over Appalachian State University at home in Carmichael Arena.
The first set was highly contested in the beginning, as North Carolina found itself with a slim two-point lead after each team had multiple kills and a few attack errors. Six attack errors from the Mountaineers, however, led to a shift in momentum that North Carolina took advantage of and never lost. Sophomore Parker Austin had a strong first set as the Tar Heels went on to lead 20-10 before an Appalachian State timeout.
The momentum from the first set carried on into the second, as sophomore Skyy Howard forced two straight kills to put North Carolina up 8-4. Howard and Austin also contributed to UNC’s 17-10 run in the second that gave UNC a commanding 2-0 advantage before the start of the third set.
The third set was more of the same for North Carolina as the team took an early 8-2 lead, forcing an Appalachian State timeout. From this time to the Mountaineers’ next timeout, North Carolina scored ten to Appalachian’s four. Eight Mountaineer errors were ultimately too much to overcome as North Carolina finished out the third set, 25-13.
Who stood out?
Austin started off the spring portion of the season with a dominating first match, including a team-leading nine kills, as well as one block and two digs. Austin had a successful fall campaign with North Carolina and looks to build off of her previous success this spring.
Howard and first-year Aziah Buckner both had strong matches as well, as Howard had eight kills and a game-high six blocks, while Buckner had six kills, five digs, two blocks and one service ace.
When was it decided?
North Carolina played a very dominant first match of the spring season as the Tar Heels won each of the three sets decisively with 25-15, 25-14, and 25-13 victories. UNC got the momentum in the first set and seemed to never look back.
Why does it matter?
The UNC volleyball had hoped to start the spring off strong in order to build off of their fall success. The Tar Heels got the start they were looking for, with a dominant win over Appalachian State. The Heels move to 7-2 and are on a five-game win streak with one more nonconference match and a whole ten-game conference slate still left to play.
Though a five-game streak looks great on paper, UNC had not played a competitive match since Nov. 1, 2020. The team needed a win against the Mountaineers to restore its confidence and shake off the rust before the season truly kicks off.
When do they play next?
UNC’s next match is against East Carolina University on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in Greenville, N.C.
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