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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC volleyball finishes 1-1 in weekend road slate, defeating Clemson and losing at No. 13 Georgia Tech

UNC first-year outside hitter Sydney Nolan (5) attacks the ball during the volleyball game in Carmichael Arena on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

The North Carolina volleyball team (10-9, 4-6 ACC) won in five sets against Clemson (12-9, 3-6 ACC) on Friday night. On Sunday, though, they lost in four sets at No. 13 Georgia Tech (17-3, 8-2 ACC). 

UNC opened weekend play at Clemson with a 3-2 victory against the Tigers. The win served as North Carolina’s third straight conference win, giving the Tar Heels the momentum they need as they approach the final month of regular season play. 

In the first set, UNC and Clemson traded points back and forth, keeping the game tight early on. First-year setter Zoe Behrendt orchestrated the offense for the Tar Heels, spreading the ball between several North Carolina attackers.

In only her seventh kill of the night, junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster tallied her 1,000th career kill, and finished with a match-high 25 kills.

In a match that was led by strong attackers on both sides, the game was won at the net with UNC recording a season-best 16 total blocks in the match. Sophomore middle blocker Sadie Swift led the Tar Heels in blocks with eight total and two in the fifth set, both at crucial moments.

First-year opposite hitter Sydney Nolan had a career-best six total blocks, while Shaffmaster, Behrendt and graduate setter Maria Miggins each added five blocks apiece.

After North Carolina dropped the fourth set 25-20, the Tar Heels entered the fifth set hoping to uphold their three match win-streak. 

UNC won the set 15-8, behind Behrendt's career-best 48 assists on the night and 18 digs by sophomore libero Maddy May. On the defensive end, May, Shaffmaster and Miggins each finished with double-digits digs in the match against the Tigers.

“Friday night was a hard fought win against Clemson who's playing really well,” head coach Mike Schall said. “Our kids were really tough and just kind of gutted out a win against a team that had been playing well.” 

On Sunday, the Tar Heels took on Georgia Tech in Atlanta, losing in four sets.

The Georgia Tech offense moved the Tar Heels around in all four sets, pounding the ball down the line at Behrendt and cross-court at May. Although UNC got a touch on most balls, it was usually shanked out of bounds or sent high into the ceiling, causing North Carolina to operate out of system. 

In the first two sets of the match, UNC scored 15 and 16 points, respectively. In the third set, Georgia Tech held a early six-point lead and it looked like the set would end similar to the first two. However, graduate outside hitter Emani’ Foster led the Tar Heels in a 5-0 run to go up 22-21 in the set.

Brendhart found Shaffmaster in the back row for a perfectly placed kill in the seam, allowing UNC to take their first lead of the set. Following a net violation and kill by freshman opposite hitter Romani Thurman, North Carolina sealed the third set, winning 26-24.

“[Georgia Tech] put a lot of pressure on us and we didn't handle it the best,” Schall said. “I was really pleased with how we fought in the third set to extend it to four and we want more than that.”

Despite her 15 kills in the match, Foster struggled to get around the block in the fourth set. Sophomore Georgia Tech middle blocker Anna Boezi had seven blocks in the match, helping lead the Yellow Jackets to a 25-17 victory and end the match. 

North Carolina will play at Duke on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium. 


@dthsports |

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