The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday September 24th

UNC volleyball sweeps Wofford to open two-game Saturday slate

UNC junior libero Karenna Wurl passes the ball at the game against Wofford on Sept. 4 at Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels won 3-0.
Buy Photos UNC junior libero Karenna Wurl passes the ball at the game against Wofford on Sept. 4 at Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels won 3-0.

The North Carolina volleyball team (5-0) swept Wofford (2-4) to start off its Saturday doubleheader on a positive note. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels got off to a fast start, going up 6-2 after a kill from sophomore Kaya Merkler. The Terriers responded with their own 6-2 run to tie the game up at eight. The match was then a back-and-forth affair with UNC slowly extending its lead. 

A kill from graduate student Nia Parker-Robinson was the first of four consecutive points for the Tar Heels, which put the opening set out of reach. UNC took a 22-14 advantage and never relinquished the lead despite a comeback attempt from Wofford. A kill from junior Parker Austin clinched the first game for North Carolina with a score of 25-21.  

UNC kept its momentum from the first set to take a commanding 8-2 lead in the second. The Terriers once again cut into their deficit, getting as close as two points behind after a North Carolina error. A 3-0 run followed by 5-0 run three plays later got the Tar Heels back up big. The latter streak included three straight kills from senior Amanda Phegley.  

Wofford was never able to re-establish any sort of rhythm in the game after going down 20-12, letting UNC comfortably clinch a 25-18 set victory. 

North Carolina nearly mirrored its previous start, going on another 8-2 run with first-year Mabrey Shaffmaster leading the way with four early kills. The Terriers once again had no answer for the Tar Heels’ strong opening push, falling behind by as much as 12 toward the end of the third set. A kill from Phegley sealed the 3-0 sweep. 

Who stood out? 

Phegley was UNC's best source of offense all game. She led the team with 11 kills, and accounted for 12.5 of its points. The Tampa native topped her season high for kills by 8 and her season record for points by 8.5. She also didn’t pick up an error the whole match and hit a very efficient 79 percent. 

On the facilitating end, graduate Meghan Neelon, accounted for over half of the teams overall assists with 23. It’s tied for her second most of the short season. She was a huge reason why her teammates were able to score the balls on kills so effectively all afternoon. 

When was it decided?

Strong starts were key in each of the three sets. The Tar Heels were able to put the Terriers in a hole right away, putting more pressure on them to play mistake-free volleyball. Wofford was able to cut into the opening lead twice but UNC had an answer every time. 

Having that early cushion gave the Tar Heels room for error and plenty of time to reestablish momentum, which they did every time. And the Terriers had little fight left in a third set that was dominated by North Carolina from the opening serve. 

Why does it matter?

After a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Colorado State on Friday night, the Tar Heels were hoping to use that win as a confidence boost against a team they’ve never faced before in the program's history. They were to control the game all the way through and keep their perfect season alive.

The victory also came in quicker fashion giving them more rest before playing another match in the evening. 

When do they play next?

North Carolina will return to Carmichael Arena to take on East Carolina at 6 p.m. to conclude the Saturday doubleheader.

@ryanheller23 

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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