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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC volleyball falls to Miami in five sets on senior day

Sophomore outside hitter Kaya Merkler (14) attempts a spike in the senior day match against the University of Miami on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. The Tar Heels fell to the Hurricanes in a five-set match.

After coming off a 3-0 win at Virginia, the North Carolina volleyball team (20-8, 9-8 ACC) fell to Miami (23-4, 14-3 ACC) in four sets on Senior Day. 

What happened? 

Senior Day ceremonies preceding the game honored seniors Annabelle Archer, Amanda Phegley, Ryan Shannon, Emily Zinger and Erin Boone as well as graduate transfers Meghan Neelon, Emma Reynolds and Nia Robinson, at Carmichael Arena. 

In the first set, UNC took the lead early by earning five points in a row to jump ahead, 7-2. First-year Mabrey Shaffmaster’s strong service game at the start of the set helped the team gain early momentum. 

Although the Tar Heels stayed in the lead for most of the set, Miami came back to trim the deficit to 16-13. UNC called a timeout and followed it up with kills by Shaffmaster, sophomore Kayla Merkler, Robinson and Phegler. Consecutive kills by Shaffmaster finished off the set and the Tar Heels won by a four-point margin, 25-21. 

Despite the early set victory, UNC was not able to continue its winning trend in the following three sets. 

The Tar Heels fell behind 14-10 in the second set after losing four points in a row. UNC came back at the end of the set with multiple kills by Robinson, which tied the score at 23. Ultimately, the team’s efforts were not enough and Miami won the set, 26-24. 

The Tar Heels were down for the majority of the third set, but they stayed in it until the very end. They fought through six set points only to lose the set, 29-27. 

UNC also lost the fourth and final set to Miami, 25-21. Miami outshined UNC at the end of the game with more consistent and precise blocks and kills.  

Who stood out? 

UNC’s offense stood out earning 67 kills compared to Miami’s 51. UNC’s defense also refused to give up, earning 66 digs compared with Miami’s 45. 

Shaffmaster led the team with 20 kills, Robinson had 18 and Merkler had 13. Neelon led the team with 55 assists. 

When was it decided?

Although the Tar Heels only won the first set of the match, the next two sets were tightly contested. Miami ended on top both times, which caused UNC to lose momentum in the fourth set and eventually fall in the match. 

Why does it matter? 

The match was disappointing because it marked the third win in a row for Miami against UNC. When Miami and UNC last played on Oct. 1, Miami won the intense match in five sets. 

This was Miami's first win in Chapel Hill since 2004. 

When do they play next? 

The Tar Heels now have one more regular season and ACC game remaining at Duke on Nov. 26. 

The next step for UNC is the selection show on Nov. 28 which will determine if the team qualifies for the NCAA Tournament.  

@dthsports |

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