- North Carolina defeats LSU, 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 27-25)
- North Carolina improves to 2-4; Illinois drops to 8-1
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Attendance: 1327
- Box Score
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Tar Heels beat LSU Sunday afternoon in the final match of the Carolina Classic. This marks the first loss of the season for the Tigers. Holly Carlton, Taylor Leath, and Beth Nodhorn all posted career performances.
North Carolina hit .289 on the match, with 16 kills in each of the last three sets, and held LSU to a .211 clip. The Tar Heels out-blocked the Tigers 5-4.
North Carolina setter, Carlton, totaled 51 assists and 13 digs for a double-double, five kills and three block assists. Her opponent, Anna Zwiebel, notched 45 assists and ten digs for a double-double of her own, along with two kills, and one block assist.
Two North Carolina players posted double-figure kills in Leath with a career-high 27 kills and 12 digs for a double-double on a .404 clip and Nordhorn, also with a career-high of 15 kills on a .545 clip.
LSU’s offense was led by Taylor Bannister and Toni Rodriguez, with 18 and 16 kills, respectively. Gina Tillis also recorded 11 kills and 14 digs for her fourth double-double of the season.
Both teams will be playing on their home courts next weekend.
Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics
CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina picked up its second straight victory on Sunday afternoon, taking down previously-unbeaten LSU, 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 27-25), in the Carolina Classic finale. Redshirt-junior Taylor Leath was nearly unstoppable, hitting over .400 with the most kills for a Tar Heel in over a decade, as UNC improved to 2-4 while LSU dropped to 8-1.
“This win means a lot because we have a lot of respect for LSU,” said head coach Joe Sagula. “They were 8-0, playing well, playing with confidence, so we’re playing a team who we expect to get a great battle from with some good players. They’re a well-coached team. They went through some growing pains last year and they’ve kind of put it together. So, for us to beat a team that’s on a roll I think is great.
“I told the team ‘It’s going to be a lot better to continue learning with a win than learning from the losses. There were still some glaring things we need to get better at and hopefully we will. Definitely very satisfying to see some of the people making such progress.”
Taylor Leath put on a show at the left pin, posting a career-high 27 kills to go with 12 digs, while hitting .404. Her fourth career 20-kill performance and 13th double-double, it was the most kills for a Tar Heel since 2005 and just the fourth time in rally-scoring history that a Tar Heel registered more than 25 kills in a four-set match.
“Taylor was great,” said Sagula. “She played defense, passed well, was intense, served well. Her presence on the court—that is what I think she’s going to be feeling good about—that she can play this type of game throughout the season now. The first couple of weeks we all struggled, but I think it’s very satisfying for her knowing she can be that go-to player, and her play inspired others. In the locker room, she was very determined, and I think that inspired the people around her. I’m really proud of her.”
Senior middle hitter Beth Nordhorn also had a career night, hitting .545 with a career-high 15 kills, while junior Madision Laufenberg posted a personal-best eight kills.
“I think the more we feed Beth, the more she finds ways to swing,” said Sagula. “She’s different. She’s not like other hitters, but she’s got such a great long rangy arm that it’s hard to stop her. Beth is going to get better the more we play her, the more we set her. And she’s becoming a better blocker. That’s been something that we’ve worked on for a long time, but as her blocking improves she’s getting really, really good.”
Directing the offense for the Tar Heels was redshirt freshman Holly Carlton, who turned in her best all-around performance to date. The rookie setter registered her first-ever double-double with 51 assists, 13 digs, five kills, two blocks and a service ace.
“When you’re a setter and all your hitters are on fire, my job is really easy,” said Carlton. “They made my job really easy today.”
Carolina’s defense held firm as well, with three Tar Heels in double-digit digs. Sophomore libero Mia Fradenburgled the charge with 23, her second 20-dig performance of the year. At the net, the Heels once again stuffed double-digit blocks, led by Taylor Fricano and Katharine Esterley with six apiece and five stuffs by Nordhorn.
LSU opened up a large lead midway through the first set, running ahead 18-11. The Tar Heels regrouped after a timeout, as Fradenburg served up a 6-0 run to pull back within one, 18-17. A service ace by Maddie Grace Houghonce again cut the deficit to one, 23-22, but Taylor Bannister won a long rally with a kill to make it Tiger set point. A kill by Leath erased their first attempt, but a service error ended the battle, as LSU took the first set, 25-23. The Heels out-hit the Tigers .355 to .325 in the set, but four service errors proved the difference-maker.
Carolina took a quick 3-1 lead to start the second set, and an ace by Sehrena Hull made it 16-10 Tar Heels. LSU cut the deficit in half, 18-15, but UNC used four straight kills to pull ahead 22-15. The Tigers replied with a 5-0 run, served out by Lindsay Flory, but a pair of kills by Leath closed it out for the Heels, 25-21, to tie the match at one set apiece.
“I think the second set might be one of the most important sets of the season for us,” said Sagula.” The fact that we stayed in it and came back to win, I think it gave us confidence. To be down 0-2 against a really good team would have been a really tough one to overcome, so I think we might look back and say that second set against LSU could be a turnaround for building the confidence in this team. I hope so.”
The third set was closer, featuring five tie scores and two lead changes. An ace by Kelly Quinn put LSU in front 12-11, but Carolina replied with three straight to push ahead 14-12. A kill and a block by Nordhorn made it 20-15 UNC, and a pair of Leath kills finished off the third, as UNC took a 2-1 match lead with a 25-20 win in the third.
UNC won the first two points of the fourth set, but LSU charged right back to pull ahead, 7-3, on a service run by Raigen Cianciulli. The Tigers held down that lead until a kill by Leath sparked a 5-0 run that put Carolina back on top, 16-13. LSU tied the score at 17 on a block then pushed ahead 21-19 off a kill from Toni Rodriguez. A kill from Jacqui Armer made it 23-21 Tigers, but the Tar Heels forced their way back for three straight to reach match point, 24-23. Kills by Bannister and Rodriguez tied the score at 24 and 25, but Leath’s 27th kill gave UNC another match-point opportunity, and Laufenberg and Esterley teamed up on a block to seal the match, 27-25, and give UNC its second straight victory, 3-1.
Carolina’s homestand continues next weekend, when Coastal Carolina and Loyola Marymount come to town. The Heels will host LMU on Friday, Sept. 15, before an NCAA Tournament rematch with the Chanticleers on Saturday, Sept. 16. Both matches will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Courtesy of LSU Athletics
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The LSU volleyball team fell for the first time in 2017, dropping a 3-1 decision to North Carolina on Sunday afternoon in Carmichael Arena.
LSU claimed the first set 25-23 but dropped the next three by scores of 25-21, 25-20 and 27-25. The Tigers are now 8-1 on the year which is the best start since the 2010 season.
Flory’s Final Thoughts
“This was a great match. The other matches could have gone either way and I think this match we finally backed ourselves into a corner and couldn’t get it done. I liked our fight and I liked our resiliency. But you have to credit for making the plays at the end and unfortunately we left too many plays out on the court for the taking. When you do that against a balanced team, you are going to pay the price and we did that.”
“We have to get our middles going. Overall on this trip, our middles were not very good. It’s a system thing, not an effort thing by either one of them. Olivia Beyer and Jacqui Armer are two of the hardest workers on the team. We need to create for them a little better. We can’t be three dimensional. We have to have everyone more balanced offensively and certainly today we were not that.”
It was a strong start for the Tigers in set one as they got out to an 8-5 lead. They capitalized on UNC’s errors and put together strong offense. LSU went on a 4-0 run to take a 12-7 lead and force UNC to a timeout. UNC pushed back and came within one but LSU was consistent, leading the Tar Heels 23-21. A kill from Taylor Bannister and a UNC service error gave LSU set one, 25-23.
The Tigers struggled to get offense going in the second set as they hit .188 to UNC’s .355. They fell behind 6-3 and slowly work their way back but UNC went up 15-10 and 20-15. LSU went on a 5-0 run to cut the UNC to 22-20 but the Tar Heels finished off the set with a 3-1 run.
In a set that saw five ties and two lead changes, LSU hit .194. The two teams went back and forth before LSU took the lead at 12-11. Two straight points gave UNC the lead and UNC pushed to a 20-15 lead. LSU fought back, getting three kills from Toni Rodriguez but UNC secured set three by two kills from Taylor Leath.
LSU started the fourth set off strong as they went on a 5-0 run for a 7-3 lead. LSU continued to push forward, leading 10-5 after a Gina Tillis kill. UNC wasn’t going down easy as the Tar Heels worked their way back slowly and tied the game up 17-17. LSU took advantage of a UNC attacking error and a kill from Rodriguez to go up 21-19. The Tar Heels tied up the set at 23-23. The two teams traded points before UNC came up with a big dig and a block to end the game.
Taylor Bannister led the Tigers with 18 kills, her third straight match with 10-plus kills. Rodriguez and Tillis finished with 16 and 11 kills respectively.
Along with her 11 kills, Tillis finished with a team-high 14 digs for her fourth double-double of the season and her 20th career.
Anna Zwiebel finished with 45 assists and 10 digs for her third double-double on the year.
Raigen Cianciulli registered 11 digs in the back row.
The team hit .211 for the match with a total of 57 kills on 166 attacks.
LSU is on the road again next week on Wednesday night, heading to Baylor for a mid-week match. The Tigers are finally home after 10 straight matches on the road. The Tigers take on Houston on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. in the PMAC.