Following the North Carolina volleyball team’s recent rivalry wins over Duke and N.C. State, UNC head coach Joe Sagula warned against committing unforced errors when the ball unexpectedly came back over the net.
“What we have to do is just stay a little more calmer in those situations,” Sagula said on Oct. 24.
In UNC’s first set against Georgia Tech on Friday, the team took that advice to heart. The Tar Heels stayed close to the Yellow Jackets through their early lead in the first set and eventually secured a 26-24 opening-set victory.
In the second set, however, UNC was plagued by the unforced errors Sagula discussed, combined with attacking struggles.
The team’s morale plummeted, especially after a 6-0 Georgia Tech scoring run late in the set that was only broken up by a service error from the game’s kill leader, Yellow Jacket senior Julia Bergmann. No. 10 Georgia Tech continued this momentum, which culminated in a 3-1 win.
“I think we just got too complacent," senior middle hitter Skyy Howard said. "I think we expected them to roll over in the second set, and they didn’t. We worked really hard in the first set, and I think we could’ve just brought more energy and aggressiveness in terms of defense and attacking.”
Georgia Tech had been on a four-game winning streak entering the game, and UNC’s second-set complacency was crucial in turning the game around and eventually adding to the Yellow Jackets’ streak.
The struggles that the Tar Heels pulled through in the first set — long runs and an aggressive Georgia Tech offense led by Bergmann — were soon more apparent once the team's confidence was shaken.
When Georgia Tech took another early lead in the third set, the Tar Heels initially kept a closer pace. However, the Yellow Jackets eventually pulled ahead to win the third set, 25-16, and earn a 2-1 match lead.