Following an undefeated start to the season, UNC’s volleyball team has lost three straight matches, all to conference rivals. Despite a hard fought game, the loss keeps the Tar Heels at the bottom of the ACC standings with an 0-3 record in conference.
The Tar Heels narrowly dropped the first set in a hard fought, back and forth affair that neither team seemed to be able to quite get control over. UNC led 17-14 at one point before Miami mounted a comeback. The Tar Heels would save four set points before the Hurricanes were finally able to convert and take the first set 29-27.
The second set started out in a similar manner, with both teams tied at 19 points each before Miami won five of the last six points to seal the second 25-20 and take a strong 2-0 lead in the set score.
The third set would see the Tar Heels start fighting back and begin taking control of the set in a way that neither team had been able to up until that point. Following an 8-8 tie, the Tar Heels rattled off 10 out of 13 to take a commanding 18-11 lead which they would never cede, winning the set 25-18. The third set was similar to the first four with the Tar Heels holding a narrow lead for much of it before winning six of the last eight to take the set 25-20.
The two teams headed into the deciding set with a series of substitutions before play. The set was once again back and forth and tied at 12-12 before Miami scored three points in a row to win 15-12 and secure the set and overall victory.
Who stood out?
Graduate student Nia Robinson put on a show offensively with 24 kills, which amounted to over a third of the team’s overall kills. Mabrey Shaffmaster was not far behind her, as she added 21 kills and Emily Zinger also notched 13 kills of her own. Defensively, the Tar Heels received big contributions from Olivia Diaz with 23 digs as well as Neelon Meghan and Shaffmaster, who each had 17 and 15 digs respectively.
When was it decided?
All of the sets the Tar Heels lost were close and back and forth with UNC having a chance to win in all of them. Miami being able to get momentum late and win several points in a row in those sets made the difference. Despite leading the Hurricanes in most statistical categories across the match, including points won, the Tar Heels were not able to win points when it mattered the most.
Why does it matter?
With their third straight conference loss, the Tar Heels now have an 0-3 record in conference play and are at the bottom of the conference table. In what looked like a promising season that started out with 11 straight wins, the Tar Heels will have to start considering what they need to do better if they are to remain competitive in the conference.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will play Florida State in Tallahassee on Sunday, October 3rd.
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