The North Carolina volleyball team (11-11, 5-8 ACC) defeated Virginia Tech (12-12, 2-11 ACC) in three sets on Friday at home in a battle between two teams with a three-game losing streak.
“We’ve been up and down a little bit and we’re working to steady out," head coach Mike Schall said. "But I’m really proud of the group."
After back-and-forth kills to start the set, UNC was finally able to do what they couldn’t against N.C. State: follow its momentum. After UNC secured its first kill of the match, the Hokies were able to come back with a couple of big blocks at the net, cutting a 5-point lead to two, trailing 14-12.
But a kill by sophomore defensive specialist Maddy May, followed by a sliding save from graduate outside hitter Emani' Foster, restarted the momentum for the Tar Heels.
“[Emani’] leads by how she plays, she doesn’t shy away from big moments, she enjoys that part of it,” Schall said. “She’s a really competitive kid. She's not gonna yell and scream out there but boy she wants to win.”
North Carolina’s defense on the right side of the net kept the Hokies' hit percentage below 0.15 for the first set. However, a series of attack errors for North Carolina kept it to a close 21-22 after a 3-0 Hokies spurt.
Two kills at the end of the first set by junior outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster led the Tar Heels to come out on top, taking the opening set. This comeback illustrated another improvement from the match against the Wolfpack: being able to execute in big moments.
“We’ve been talking all season about winning the real points,” Foster said. “So, after 17, that’s when you need to close the game out, so it was a great example of us doing that.”