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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC sweeps Virginia to remain undefeated at home, pick up first ACC win

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UNC junior libero/defensive specialist Marissa Meyerhoefer (24) celebrated with her teammates in the Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 game against the University of Virginia. UNC beat UVA with a score of 3-0.

In UNC volleyball’s first ACC game of the season, the Tar Heels swept the Virginia Cavaliers 3-0 in Carmichael Arena to remain unbeaten at home. 

North Carolina was able to carry its momentum from last weekend's wins over Santa Clara and Coastal Carolina.  Furthermore, UNC limited service errors throughout the night against UVA, an area that the Tar Heels have struggled with at times this year. The ability to retain their serve limited UVA’s chances and was vital in UNC’s win. 

“We didn’t have any one particular player we were going after,” head coach Mike Schall said. “But we wanted our serve to affect what they wanted to do and maybe make them a little more predictable, even if they were passing well.”

After the Cavaliers tallied the first two points of the first set, North Carolina went on a 4-0 scoring run, led by first-year opposite hitter Romani Thurman, to take a 4-2 lead. The set remained close until the Tar Heels took a 19-15 lead after a kill by junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster.  

UNC junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) hitting the ball in the Friday, Sept. 22 22, 2023 game against the University of Virginia. UNC beat UVA with a score of 3-0.

Virginia then went on a 3-0 scoring run to cut the North Carolina lead to one. However, a kill by sophomore middle blocker Sadie Swift and two attacking errors restored UNC’s four-point lead.

Swift had a career-high nine blocks, helping stifle the UVA offense.

“It feels good to just shut them down and like help our defense by just getting touches and just shutting them down at the net,” Swift said. 

Kills from Shaffmaster and Thurman helped seal a 25-21 first-set win for the Tar Heels. In the first set, UNC trailed just once and only committed three service errors — compared to last Sunday’s seven in the first set.

In the second set, Tar Heels stormed out to take a 9-3 lead led by Thurman and graduate outside hitter Emani’ Foster. Once the Tar Heels regained the lead after going down early, they never trailed again and claimed a dominant 25-18 win.

UNC graduate outside hitter Emani' Foster (8) spiking the ball in the Friday, Sept. 22 22, 2023 game against the University of Virginia. UNC beat UVA with a score of 3-0.

“I think [the] second set, honestly, it felt pretty clean,” Schall said. “But I think a lot of it was our defensive effort. And if you look at the numbers, I think that was our worst hitting set. So even though it felt good, it wasn’t totally clean from an attacking perspective.”

The third set started off close, with an attacking error by first-year outside hitter Safi Hampton tying the set at four. The Tar Heels and Cavaliers continued to go back and forth, however, Virginia gained the lead off of a 6-0 scoring run in the middle of the set to lead 16-13.

“In the third set we just had like a breakdown serve-receive,” Shaffmaster said. “I think personally, I think Virginia was just playing way harder. Like they were touching everything and not letting anything hit the floor, and then it kind of just was like they were just waiting for us to make a mistake.”

North Carolina tied the set back up at 18 off of a powerful Hampton kill. Both teams continued to trade points late in the third set, but the Tar Heels were able to fend off the Cavaliers to take the third set 25-23.

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UNC volleyball celebrating their win in the Friday, Sept. 22 22, 2023 game against the University of Virginia. UNC beat UVA with a score of 3-0.

“I think it was good for us just to put our foot down and just say, ‘We’re not gonna lose the set, like, we’re gonna win 3-0,’” Shaffmaster said. “And that’s big in the ACC, just to win 3-0 and just get out.”

North Carolina's next match is against No. 8 Pittsburgh on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels last beat the Panthers in 2015. 


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