Coming off an intense five-set win against Michigan, the North Carolina volleyball team defeated Elon (5-5) in three sets and improved its record to 9-0.
The first set of the match was intense, often going back-and-and forth. The two teams initially rotated between taking the lead and tying up again. Continuous unforced errors and a lack of cohesion on the court caused the Tar Heels to fall behind 18-13.
After losing three consecutive points to Elon, senior Amanda Phegley’s kill brought the momentum back in favor for UNC. Sophomore Kaya Merkler also scored twice in a row. These runs, along with enforced errors from Elon, resulted in a tied score at 20-20. The Phoenix refused to back down, tying the Tar Heels 21-21 and 22-22.
Graduate hitter Nia Robinson finished out the set with her consecutive kills, and the final score was 25-23. This score was closer than anticipated, but UNC managed to improve its teamwork and mindset to win the first set.
Although initially down 3-1 in the second set, the Tar Heels continued to put in their best effort and apply their “one point at a time” strategy. Merkler’s powerful kill tied the set to 7-7 and instilled energy into the team’s dynamic. From there, the team took a huge leap in the score to 12-7. Robinson commanded the court by hitting three straight spikes in a row. The Tar Heels eventually won the set by a larger margin: a score of 25-17.
In contrast to prior sets, UNC began the third set with a 3-0 lead against Elon, determined to end the match strong. The Tar Heels achieved impressive blocks, kills and assists throughout the set. Allowing just eight points on the board, Carolina finished out the third and final set with a winning spike by Robinson.
Who stood out?
Junior Parker Austin played the match under unique circumstances. On opposite sides of the net, Parker competed against her sister, Presley, who is a freshman on Elon’s volleyball team. Parker remained focused on the task at hand during the competition, earning two kills and four digs for her team.
Robinson earned crucial set points for her team today and had a total of 14 kills. Merkler had eight kills, and graduate setter Meghan Neelon assisted 19 points for the team.
When was it decided?
After the Tar Heels pulled out the first set win by a close margin, 25-23, they carried their momentum through the rest of the match. With each set, Carolina defeated Elon by a larger and larger margin. The second set score was 25-17, and the third set score improved to 25-8.
Why does it matter?
Coming off a hard-fought match against Michigan on Sunday, this match was a quick turn-around for North Carolina. The Tar Heels managed to maintain their energy level and stamina against Elon’s reputable women’s volleyball team. Despite the slow start to the match, UNC refused to give up but instead adjusted the strategy to pull out a win in 3 sets.
Who do they play next?
North Carolina will face UNC Charlotte at Carmichael Arena on Friday at 6 p.m, and the team aims to keep its undefeated record.