After playing on the road for nearly two weeks, the North Carolina volleyball team will return to Carmichael Arena to face the Miami Hurricanes on Friday night.
Last year, the Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels in both regular season matchups, the latter being a 3-1 win on UNC’s Senior Day. Miami returns three of its four 2021 All-ACC players this season, posing a challenge to a less experienced North Carolina team.
With a 1-1 record in conference play, UNC will look to climb the ACC rankings with a quality win. Here are three head-to-head matchups to pay attention to on the court.
Anita Babic vs. Savannah Vach - Setter
First-year setter Anita Babic has already established herself as the Tar Heels’ primary setter, replacing last year’s graduate setter Meghan Neelon. Ranked as the No. 14 player in the class of 2022 by Prep Volleyball, Babic’s 8.49 assists per set is good for sixth in the ACC.
With Neelon now on the sidelines to mentor Babic as a technical coordinator, the Phoenix native has been encouraged by head coach Joe Sagula to be more aggressive on offense with tip-ins disguised as fake sets. On Friday, these types of plays could help deceive the Hurricanes' front line of blockers.
Miami senior setter Savannah Vach averaged 10.93 assists per set in her junior campaign, earning her the team’s lone First Team All-ACC selection. She has only continued to facilitate the Hurricanes’ offense this season, already tallying 508 assists through 50 sets — good for second overall in the conference.
Mabrey Shaffmaster vs. Angela Grieve - Outside hitter
North Carolina sophomore outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster’s blazing jump serve gave her a team-best 30 service aces last season and also helped her earn ACC Freshman of the Year. However, it’s been a different story this season, as Shaffmaster has only five service aces and a team-high 23 service errors.