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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC volleyball beats Duke 3-1 to break three-game losing streak

UNC first-year Liv Mogridge (18) wins a point off a hit in a close first set during the volleyball match against Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

The North Carolina volleyball team (16-12, 8-9 ACC) defeated Duke (16-13, 7-11 ACC) 3-1 to break the Tar Heels’ three-game losing streak. 

What happened?

UNC got a quick start in the first set, scoring three unanswered points in a balanced offensive attack. The score remained close up until midway through the set, as the Tar Heels held a two-point lead with just a 12-10 advantage over the Blue Devils. The Tar Heels went on a 5-2 run after Duke trimmed their lead to just two scores, putting them ahead 17-12. UNC took advantage of several Blue Devils’ errors during this run. Sophomore outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster helped close out the first set for the Tar Heels, scoring three kills after the 5-2 run en route to a 25-18 first-set victory. 

The script flipped in the second set, as the Blue Devils got out of the gates quickly by taking a 7-2 advantage over UNC early in the set. After falling to a five-point deficit early, Tar Heels called a timeout, but Duke mostly maintained its five-point edge throughout the set. UNC did draw within two scores of Duke’s lead, but the Blue Devils then responded with an 8-1 run that put them ahead 17-9. The Tar Heels made a comeback attempt, but without the point production they got from Duke’s errors in the first set, they struggled to put points on the board and lost, 25-19. 

It took UNC until midway through the third set to take a significant lead and pull away from the Blue Devils, as neither team held more than a three-point advantage until the Tar Heels took a 12-8 lead. First-year middle hitter Liv Mogridge fueled the Tar Heels early on, contributing three kills before taking a four-point lead and forcing a Duke timeout. The Blue Devils came storming back, however, and tied the score at 18 by scoring six unanswered points, which prompted a UNC timeout. The Tar Heels closed the set out on a 7-1 run, as Duke’s comeback attempt seemed to have run out of fuel after its 6-0 run. UNC took the third set 25-19, giving the Tar Heels a 2-1 set advantage. 

The final set of the match was tightly contested, and neither team took more than a three-point lead until UNC went on a 4-1 run to pull ahead 15-11, forcing a Duke timeout. Mogridge carried over her play from the third set into the fourth, contributing two of the Tar Heels’ four points during the 4-1 run. A balanced offensive attack and several Duke errors helped the Tar Heels capitalize on their lead and take a 25-17 fourth-set victory, giving them a 3-1 match win. 

Who stood out? 

Mogridge had one of the most complete games of her young UNC career. The first-year contributed 12 kills — one away from her career high of 13 — and five blocks while boasting a hitting percentage of 44 percent. Junior middle hitter Kaya Merkler also had a strong performance, as she contributed nine kills with a hitting percentage of 36.8, seven blocks and six digs. 

When was it decided?

Duke’s chances of forcing a fifth set were alive and well in the fourth set when the Tar Heels held just a 13-11 advantage over the Blue Devils. UNC scored six points compared to Duke’s one score to take an 18-12 lead, forcing a Blue Devil’s timeout. The Tar Heels kept their foot on the gas just enough to come away with a 25-17 fourth-set victory, which gave them a 3-1 match victory. 

Why does it matter?

Outside of beating its top rival, this is a significant win for UNC because it ends the Tar Heels' three-game losing streak in the ACC. The win is also important because it helps keep them afloat in the middle of the conference standings, which has six teams with seven or eight wins in the conference. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels’ regular season finale is Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Virginia Cavaliers. 

@dthsports |

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