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Saturday December 3rd

UNC volleyball drops home match to No. 5 Louisville, 3-0

<p>UNC sophomore Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) rises up in the third set of the volleyball match against Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. UNC fell 3-0 to Louisville.</p>
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UNC sophomore Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) rises up in the third set of the volleyball match against Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. UNC fell 3-0 to Louisville.

The North Carolina volleyball team (15-11, 7-8 ACC)  fell 3-0 to No. 5 Louisville (24-2, 15-1 ACC) on Sunday afternoon in Carmichael Arena in their second consecutive loss to the Cardinals following their 1-3 defeat in Kentucky last Sunday. 

What happened?

UNC got off to a blazing start, winning the first three points in a row against Louisville due largely to attack errors on their opponents behalf. The Cardinals attempted a comeback, picking up the fourth point, but the Tar Heels momentum proved too powerful and within the next few minutes, the score was 8-3 in the home team's favor. 

This caused Louisville to call a timeout, trying to halt North Carolina's hot streak. After the break, the two teams seemed more evenly matched, trading points back and forth with neither going on a streak of more than three. 

The Cardinals began to creep back up on the Tar Heels, eventually erasing North Carolina's lead and finding themselves tied at 14-14. This slow and steady progression continued, and resulted in Louisville seeing their first lead of the game at 16-15, forcing UNC to call its own time out. 

The Tar Heels came out hot once more, winning three games in quick succession and regaining the lead. This streak was short lived though, and the Cardinals were able to close the gap and swap places with their opponents to put themselves ahead and claim the opening set 25-22. 

The second set began in a similar fashion to the first, with the opponents trading points and swapping the lead back and forth four times within the opening minutes. 

Louisville however, seemed to finally settle in and began to become more comfortable, extending the lead between themselves and North Carolina, resulting in a UNC timeout when down 16-9. 

They continued this momentum throughout the rest of the second set, and dominated the Tar Heels in a 25-11 victory after going on a 16-4 streak in the second half of the set. 

At the start of the third set, North Carolina looked hungry for a comeback and picked up the first two games right off the bat. However, after two strong kills from the Cardinals and a service fault on behalf of UNC sophomore outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster, Louisville was in the lead yet again. 

The Tar Heels tried to tie the game up multiple times throughout the final set, but ultimately fell short, unable to find an answer for the aggressive attacking abilities of the Cardinals, resulting in a final score of 25-18.

Who stood out? 

Junior middle hitter Kaya Merkler once again proved invaluable for North Carolina, recording ten kills and delivering in critical moments to keep the Tar Heels in the game against their ranked opponents. First-year middle hitter Liv Mogridge also had a strong game, clocking six kills off of 15 attempts. 

Claire Chaussee was exceptional for the Cardinals, eventually leading the team to victory and recording ten kills. 

When was it decided?

The first set was incredibly close, with neither team ever going on a streak of more than three, making it difficult to discern which team had the upper hand. 

In the second set, the Cardinals began to show why they are the No. 5 ranked team in the nation, and started to dominate, stretching their lead to 13 at one point before clinching the second set in a definitive 25-11 victory, which would lead them to win in the third set as well. 

Why does it matter?

This defeat turns the Tar Heels' conference record into a losing one, and puts them on the back foot going into the final three matches of the season. North Carolina will look to turn around their backward momentum and finish strong against their remaining conference opponents in order to end the regular season with a winning record. 

When do they play next?

North Carolina will next return to the court on Friday, November 18 to face the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee. 

@PeaceGwen

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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