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Three takeaways from UNC volleyball's blue-white preseason scrimmage


Junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) hits the ball during the Blue-White scrimmage held by the team on Friday, August 18th, 2023 in Carmichael Arena. The Blue team won 3-0.

The North Carolina volleyball team held its blue-white scrimmage on Friday at Carmichael Arena, with the blue team, led by junior Mabrey Shaffmaster, winning 3-0. Shaffmaster, an outside hitter, posted a .519 kill percentage in the effort.

The scrimmage marked Mike Schall’s first appearance as head coach of the program following Joe Sagula's retirement in January.

Here are three takeaways from the scrimmage:

Head coach Mike Schall experimenting with lineups

Schall took over as head coach for the Tar Heels after serving as an assistant coach since 2018. In the ACC preseason poll, North Carolina was picked to finish sixth out of 15 teams.

Schall experimented with different lineups during the scrimmage. 

“It's a good problem to have that we're trying to figure out the right pieces to put together," Schall said. "A week from today, we have to put a lineup on the floor to compete against an opponent for real."

UNC will open its season against Pacific and Arizona in the Cactus Classic in Tuscon on Aug. 25. Figuring out the team's rotation and offensive tactics will be important to establish an identity early on in the season.

“I think we've got some good young players that are just constantly getting better,” Schall said. “And I think the lineup will continue to evolve throughout the season.”

Shaffmaster's leadership

As a preseason All-ACC selection, Shaffmaster is a key player for the Tar Heels. Last season, she started all 28 games and led North Carolina in kills while also recording 13 double-doubles.

The outside hitter racked up a game-high 14 kills to go with a .370 hit percentage on Friday, leading the blue team to a comfortable win. Shaffmaster also made an impact beyond the numbers as a vocal leader.

“She shows up every day ready to play,” Schall said. “And that's the best thing I can say in a long list of good things to say about her.”

Shaffmaster's expectations for both herself and the team are high heading into the season. She eventually wants to win ACC Player of the Year, though she's most focused on developing team dynamics, she said.

She said she wants the team to be more cohesive and all the new people to be more ingrained.

“You can tell it’s not there yet, but that just comes with time,” Shaffmaster said. 

Impressive transfer play from Foster and Miggins

Graduate transfers Emani’ Foster and Maria Miggins, who transferred from Charlotte and High Point, respectively, made their presence known at Friday night's scrimmage.

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“When you can add somebody who has significant experience on the floor, which both of them do, it helps younger players come along," Schall said. "It gives you just this almost sense of security that they've been here before, they know what's happening. Both of those kids have been tremendous.”

Foster is a 5-foot-10 outside hitter with a powerful swing and solid defensive skills who recorded several kills for both teams on Friday. Miggins, a 6-foot-tall setter and opposite hitter, tallied four kills of her own and added robust defense and length.

If Friday night was any indication, the veteran transfers looked right at home.

"Mike [Schall] is a big reason why I'm here," Miggins said. "I was super excited to get to play for an incredible coach, and he recruited amazing coaches to come along with him, so that was a big pull. Everyone since coming here has been so welcoming."


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