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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina volleyball drops 3-1 to N.C. State in third consecutive loss

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Graduate outside hitter Emani' Foster (8) hits the ball in Carmichal Arena on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023 during the Tar Heels' volleyball game against N.C. State.

The North Carolina volleyball team (10-11, 4-8 ACC) lost in four sets against N.C. State (17-6, 7-5 ACC) Sunday afternoon. Junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster led the Tar Heels with 19 kills while sophomore libero Maddy May added 17 digs and first-year outside hitter Sydney Nolan chipped in seven blocks in the match. 

In the first set, UNC struggled to find its groove and trailed by six points early on. Nolan was unable to find holes in the N.C.State block and was repeatedly stuffed. Sophomore middle blocker Sadie Swift and Nolan were unable to close the block on their side of the net, allowing for N.C. State to capitalize on open court in the seams.  

Shaffmaster tallied her first kill of the match at 10-7 as North Carolina still trailed the Wolfpack. At 15 points apiece, North Carolina began to find what seemed like a bit of momentum with freshman setter Zoe Behrendt dishing the ball out to Swift, Shaffmaster and graduate outside hitter Emani’ Foster. 

However, just as they tied the game UNC committed its fifth attacking error of the set compared to the two committed by N.C. State. The powerful top-spin serve from N.C. State's senior libero Skye Stokes proved to be too much for the UNC defensive line, allowing her to serve two aces on a five point run. N.C. State was able to complete its first set victory, 25-21. 

“Against N.C. State, we knew we had to be ready, and we just didn't play like it early on,” head coach Mike Schall said. “So to be in that position, that's something that I wish we would have taken advantage of at a higher level, but we didn't get the job done.”

In the second set, Foster led the way for North Carolina by recording another two quick kills. UNC began to diversify its shots on offense. Nolan found the floor in the back corner and Shaffmaster had success on the opposite line. 

While May was able to pick up most balls, the Wolfpack found scoring opportunities all over the court, making themselves hard to defend. Despite the 25-20 second set loss, May led the team with 10 digs over the first two sets. 

“For Maddy and really all of our defenders, it was tough,” Schall said. “So we once again had to put some pressure on them from the service line. But even in those situations, they're good enough to score out of them.”


Junior defensive specialist Marissa Meyerhoefer (24) dives to save the ball in Carmichal Arena on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023 during the Tar Heels' volleyball game against N.C. State.


Making her first appearance in the match, graduate opposite hitter Maria Miggins placed a tip perfectly over the hands of the blockers and extended UNC’s lead to 4-2 in the third. North Carolina built off of its early lead by relying on Shaffmaster on the outside. Her performance on both offense and defensive led UNC as the Tar Heels increased their lead to 16-12. 

In spite of the North Carolina lead, N.C. State stayed in the match and eventually fought back to a one-point deficit at 19-18. At a crucial point in the set, Behrendt came up big for the Tar Heels with a block that put the ball straight down on N.C. State’s side and improved UNC’s lead to 23-21. 

At set point, Behrendt found none other than Shaffmaster to deliver the set clinching kill. Fans in Carmichael Arena exploded as the Tar Heels kept the match going with the set win, 25-23. 

“We recognize when we play the best teams, we have to earn points,” Schall said. “And that was the one set where I felt like we earned a lot of our points, we didn't give them away.”

The fourth set was controlled by two things: service errors and blocking. Nolan, Swift and Behrendt led the way in blocking for the Tar Heels. On the service line, the two teams combined for a total of eight errors in the fourth, keeping the score close the entire set.  

With 14 ties and seven lead changes in the set, it was difficult for either team to establish a lead with the greatest difference being only four points early on. Leading 21-19, N.C. State was back at the service line hoping to close the match. Shaffmaster’s kill and then block assisted by Nolan tied the game at 21 apiece. 

A communication error between Behrendt and Shaffmaster caused UNC to lose the point but they quickly rebounded thanks to two consecutive kills from Shaffmaster. At 24-23, Shaffmaster was back to serve for North Carolina. The match ended with a Wolfpack kill that fell between Shaffmaster and Behrendt, sealing the 25-23 victory for N.C. State. 

North Carolina will play at home again on Friday at 6 p.m. against Virginia Tech. 

@mayawaid

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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