The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, June 13, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC volleyball wins first set, but comes up short to unbeaten No. 2 Louisville

Freshman Outside Hitter Mabery Shaffmaster (9) jumps for the ball in the UNC win against Elon University on September 14, 2021.

In a battle with the unbeaten No. 2 team in the country, the North Carolina volleyball team (18-7, 7-7 ACC) came out fighting against Louisville (23-0, 13-0 ACC) but ultimately lost in four sets. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels came out with a strong start, securing the first set in convincing fashion with a score of 25-14. The Cardinals committed numerous errors in the first set and combined with strong initial defense by the Tar Heels, UNC was able to get an early lead aided by an eight-point run. 

UNC scored many of its points thanks to multiple short points and the team’s aggressiveness enabled the Tar Heels to take the early lead. 

In the following three sets, Louisville was able to slow down the game with longer rallies and reduce its errors while the Tar Heels increased theirs. Louisville’s adjustments were successful with the team looking immediately like the dominant roster that their record would suggest.

The Cardinals won the second set by a score of 25-11 that included a run of seven points to end the set before winning the third set, 25-18, and the fourth and final set by a score of 25-17. In the last two sets, the Cardinals were able to hold off a late challenge by the Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels suffered from numerous self-inflicted wounds as they had a combined 33 attacking and serving errors compared to 25 by the Cardinals. These errors made huge differences as the Tar Heels were unable to keep their momentum going into the second, third and fourth quarters.

Who stood out? 

Graduate transfer Nia Robinson and first-year Mabrey Shaffmaster were the two most effective offensive players that the Tar Heels had with 15 and 12 kills, respectively. Both were also able to contribute on defense with Robinson registering three digs and Shaffmaster having five digs herself. 

Junior libero Karenna Wurl had a strong defensive effort with a game-leading 16 digs.

When was it decided?

Many of the sets were decided early with the first team to win five points winning the set in all four instances. The Tar Heels appeared to have a chance of winning early in the match when they won the first set but the team’s errors as well as Louisville’s stout defense made it clear that the Tar Heels would struggle to win. 

The Tar Heels showed that they could win with an early lead but their inability to start strong was their weakness in the second, third and fourth sets, where they fell behind and had to chase the Cardinals the rest of the way.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels now fall to 18-7 on the season and eighth in conference. Additionally, the victory allows Louisville to continue its undefeated season and extend their lead in conference play with a 13-0 record. 

Following an 11-0 start to the season, the Tar Heels have been 7-7 in their last 14 games and look to find consistency in their season.They will have to finish their season strong as Selection Sunday for the NCAA tournament approaches on Nov. 28th.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will play next on Friday, Nov. 12th in Blacksburg as they take on conference rivals Virginia Tech. The Hokies are the lowest-ranked team in the ACC and the Tar Heels will hope to use the match to build momentum for their final stretch of games.

@DTHSports |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.