The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday September 26th

UNC volleyball outlasts Michigan in a five-set outing, improves to 8-0

UNC graduate outside hitter Nia Robinson (18) blocks the ball during the UNC women's volleyball team's matchup against ECU on Sep. 4. The Tar Heels won in three sets, advancing their record to 6-0.
Buy Photos UNC graduate outside hitter Nia Robinson (18) blocks the ball during the UNC women's volleyball team's matchup against ECU on Sep. 4. The Tar Heels won in three sets, advancing their record to 6-0.

The North Carolina volleyball team (8-0) came back to defeat Michigan (4-2) in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, winning in five sets and continuing their undefeated start to the season.

What happened?

Michigan started off the match with three straight points before a service error by Michigan allowed UNC to get on the board. UNC tried to tie the Wolverines in the first set but were unsuccessful as every time the Tar Heels inched closer, Michigan would go on a run to give them a multi-point lead. What gave Michigan the set though was an eight-point run when they were up 16-10 to put them up 24-10, eventually closing the first set out 25-12. 

In the second set, it was again back and forth between the two Power 5 schools. However, the Tar Heels only allowed Michigan to hold the lead once and were up by as much as five during the set and ultimately winning the set 25-21, tying the game at one set apiece.

The third set was initially much like the previous one in that it was back and forth. With UNC up 13-12 on the Wolverines, Michigan scored six straight points that would be insurmountable, and Michigan would take their second set.

In the clinching set for Michigan, they had struggle taking control over the Tar Heels, but after being down 8-7, they would score four straight points. The Wolverines would hold onto this lead all the way up to them leading 21-17. After a timeout by UNC head coach Joe Sagula, the Tar Heels would comeback in the set, outscoring Michigan 8-2, and winning the set, keeping their unbeaten streak alive for at least one more set.

In the fifth and final set, North Carolina took control early, going up 7-3. After some back and forth play between the two teams, UNC would take the 15th and final point, beating Michigan and taking their record to 8-0.

Who stood out? 

First-year outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster and graduate outside hitter Nia Robinson helped lead the Tar Heels to the win today as they had 16 kills, with Shaffmaster adding nine digs as well.

Another key factor in the Tar Heels win today was graduate setter Meghan Neelon having 27 assists, helping her teammates to score points.

When was it decided?

The game was decided at the very last point of the match. As the Tar Heels displayed in their fourth set comeback, no matter how much a team is ahead up, the other team can easily mount a comeback. UNC avoided the Wolverine comeback and closed out the game, winning the 15th and final point.

Why does it matter?

This game matters because it shows the resiliency of this Tar Heels team to pull out a win. This game was only their second five-set game of the young season. Beating a good Michigan team after nearly losing in the fourth set shows that the team have the talent necessary to pull out tough games as they’re weeks away from entering ACC play.

Winning this game marks the first time a North Carolina volleyball team has started the season 8-0 since the 2013 season in which they went 27-5.

When do they play next?

North Carolina volleyball will look to continue their undefeated season on Tuesday when they will face Elon at home in Carmichael Arena at 6 p.m.

@noahmnroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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