The North Carolina volleyball team (14-9, 6-6 ACC) defeated the Clemson Tigers (12-13, 3-10 ACC) in a decisive 3-1 match Sunday afternoon.
At the beginning of the first set sophomore outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster and senior middle hitter Skyy Howard were spearheading UNC’s offense with disciplined swings to a scrappy Clemson defense.
UNC began to commit hitting errors, leading to a 9-12 deficit. With consistent hustle plays from the entire UNC team, the Tar Heels chipped away at the Tigers' lead, gaining a new Tar Heel lead of 14-13.
Later in the set, an assist from graduate outside hitter Charley Niego to Howard led to a 21-20 lead for the Tar Heels. Both the Tigers and the Tar Heels had similar energy throughout the first set. With a huge kill down the line from Clemson’s junior outside hitter Cate Long, the game was brought to set point for the Tigers. It was decided with a Clemson ace making it a close 25-23 win for the Tigers.
The Tar Heels came out in the second set on fire, allowing few opportunities for Clemson to send the ball back. With serve receive and hitting errors from the Tigers, they were forced to call a timeout after falling behind 4-0.
With back-to-back terminating swings to Clemson’s left pin by Shaffmaster, the Tar Heels made a huge gap with a 7-1 lead.
The Tigers soon began to fall apart, while UNC stayed consistent and disciplined with service aces from redshirt junior defensive specialist Olivia Diaz. To serve the set point, senior defensive specialist Karenna Wurl came into the game for the first time since being out since the Tar Heel’s first game in August against Colorado State. A swing from Shaffmaster finally won the second set for UNC 25-16.
UNC once again came out dominant to start the third set. Babic was all over the court, sending consistent sets to all of her hitters. Huge terminating blocks from junior middle hitter Kaya Merkler forced Clemson head coach Jackie Kirr to make a hitting change while UNC led 15-8.