The North Carolina volleyball team fell to No. 5 Louisville Cardinals 3-1 in its game on the road at L&N Federal Credit Union Arena.
Coming into a match against No. 5 ranked Louisville, the unranked UNC volleyball team wasn’t willing to simply roll over. The Tar Heels had a strong start led by an offense consisting of graduate student outside hitter Charley Niego, sophomore outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster, and senior middle hitter Skyy Howard.
Louisville started the first set with service error after service error and let balls drop close to the end line. Every time the Cardinals began to gain momentum, it was halted by another one of their errors. With kills by first-year middle hitter Liv Mogridge, the Louisville Cardinals were forced to take a timeout.
At 22-17, head coach Joe Sagula challenged an out call on a hit from Shaffmaster which was then overturned. A blistering ball down the line from Shaffmaster claimed the first set 25-17 for the Tar Heels.
To start the second set, UNC put the Cardinals in uncomfortable situations with big hits coming from the Tar Heels’ left side. With a competitive start to the set, there were back-to-back points exchanged between the two teams, keeping it a very close set.
The Cardinals began to find their momentum with huge blocks from junior middle hitter Phekran Kong, and with a late hitting error from junior middle hitter Kaya Merkler, Louisville took the second set 25-17.
The third set started off with a battle of service errors. The defining point to start this set was which team was able to send an aggressive serve over and in the court, an aspect of the game that was overwhelmingly dominated by the Tar Heels.
A block from Mogridge helped the Tar Heels to find the hot spot in this game as they forced a Louisville timeout while UNC led 10-6. However, Louisville soon began to chip away, capitalizing on Tar Heel errors later in the set.