The North Carolina volleyball team (12-15, 7-11 ACC) clinched a rivalry win in five sets over Duke (19-10, 10-8 ACC) on Senior Day.
The Blue Devils took early control of the first set, blocking any Tar Heel who tried a spike at the net. Duke recorded three blocks en route to a 12-7 lead before UNC head coach Mike Schall called a timeout.
“They're also a very good blocking team, so that's why we swing high and really get the middle involved, because they're on the pins like no other,” junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster said.
After the timeout, UNC varied its kills with short-distance taps at the net knowing the Duke block was coming.
But the Tar Heels couldn’t find a way to counter Duke’s powerful spikes, particularly from Blue Devil Lizzie Fleming who recorded four kills in the set. UNC conceded the first set 25-22.
By the second set, beating the Duke block was no problem for UNC, forcing several blocking errors from the Blue Devils. But without arresting Duke’s kill game, UNC never took control of the set, and a 6-0 Duke run put the Tar Heels down 19-12.
From that point, UNC unlocked its own block game. Led by first-year hitters Safi Hampton and Sydney Nolan, the Tar Heels recorded four blocks in the period and came back to steal the set 27-25.
“[Blocking] obviously just takes dedication and the will to just get up there and really just give it your all, because it is very easy to get tooled,” Nolan said. “And you really just have to know what you want to do in the moment. So a lot of practice, for sure.”
A back-and-forth third set saw the Blue Devils pull away after Duke challenged a kill from Swift. A hit that could have cut Duke’s lead to 16-14 instead gave Duke a 17-13 lead.