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UNC volleyball goes 2-0 in Mike Schall's debut as head coach

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Then UNC sophomore Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) rises up in the third set of the volleyball match in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

In his first match as head coach of the North Carolina volleyball team, Mike Schall and the Tar Heels looked as experienced as ever. 

On Friday, Aug. 25, UNC opened its season at the Cactus Classic with a double header in Tuscon, Arizona. In their first match of the day, UNC (2-0, 0-0 ACC) topped Pacific (0-1, 0-0 WCC) in a hard-fought match that went to five sets.

Junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster, a preseason All-ACC selection, led the way for the Tar Heels with 24 kills in the match — just three short of her career-high. In the front row, sophomore middle blocker Sadie Swift bolstered UNC's defense with a career-high six blocks.

Early in the match, UNC and Pacific exchanged scoring runs. Tied at 24 points apiece, first-year opposite hitter Romani Thurman came up big for the Tar Heels with an explosive block on Pacific outside hitter Darina Kumanova. Sophomore libero Maddy May was later able to finish the set with an ace and seal the 27-25 first set victory. 

Thurman kept stepping up, throwing in power tips and deep corner roll shots to shake Pacific’s defense. She finished with 11 kills and four blocks in the match.

In the fifth set, Shaffmaster continued to hammer the ball from all over the court. Tied at 12-12, Shaffmaster converted graduate setter Maria Miggins' set to a powerful back row attack. UNC’s front row put enough pressure on Pacific to cause a match-winning error.  

Later in the day, UNC took the court again to face off against Arizona (0-2, 0-0 PAC-12) on the Wildcats' home court.

After a kill from Swift, North Carolina continued building momentum, going on an 8-2 run. UNC continued to capitalize off of Arizona’s unforced errors and won the first set, 25-18. 

Graduate outsider hitter Emani’ Foster sparked the energy for the Tar Heels after three consecutive aces to push UNC to an early 7-3 lead in the second set. UNC continued to establish its dominance with a 25-21 second set win. 

Just when it looked like the Tar Heels would sweep Arizona, the Wildcats fought back from a 23-24 deficit to steal the third set at 26-24 and controlled play throughout the fourth, pushing the Tar Heels to yet another fifth set.

However, Arizona's momentum was not enough to put UNC's offense to rest, as the Tar Heels squeezed out a 16-14 win in the final frame. Foster led the way with 18 kills in the match, propelling the team to its second victory of the day.

North Carolina will play again in Arizona at 2 p.m. on Saturday against UC Davis to close out the weekend. Following the tournament, UNC will host its first home game of the season on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. in Carmichael Arena against West Virginia.

@mayawaid

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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