DAVIS, Calif. - North Carolina swept Utah 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-16) Saturday at the UC Davis Aggie Invitational. With a combined eight service aces, along with 13 kills by sophomore Chaniel Nelson and 21 digs by sophomore Ece Taner, the Tar Heels had a strong offensive and defense game all three sets.
"That's probably one of the best matches we've played so far this year in this young season," head coach Joe Sagula said. "Utah is a really strong program and was really competitive, and the fact that we did so many things well was great to see. Last night I think we won with our blocking, but today we won with our hitting. We had 47 kills, and hit .330 as a team, which is one of our highest percentages of the year.
"This was a great match by Chaniel, Tia, Kayla and Emily, all having numerous kills, and I think it was just a great team effort. Most importantly, we improved our defense from last night and were much more disciplined. Now we're in a position to hopefully win this tournament, and that's what we want to do, go on and gain some momentum and get ready for our match against Davis," Sagula said.
UNC took the first set 25-17, recording two service aces from McGee and junior Kaitlyn Anderson. The Tar Heels tallied a .231 attack percentage over the Utes' .108, as junior Kayla Berringer, senior Tia Gaffen and senior Emily McGee contributed three kills apiece. Taner had six digs, and Gaffen also recorded three blocks to strengthen the Carolina defense.
Rolling into set two, the Tar Heels took down the Utes 25-19. The two teams were closely matched defensively, with McGee and Taner combining for 11 digs and Neuenfeldt grabbing a block, but Carolina's offensive pulled through as Berringer, McGee and Nelson combined for 16 kills with 18 assists from Harms, and the Tar Heels tallied three service aces by Taner.
Set three saw more of the same strong performance by the Tar Heels. Tied 3-3, Carolina didn't give up the lead the remainder of the set as Taner contributed another nine digs, Harms had 12 assists, and Nelson added four more kills.
In addition to 47 total team kills, the Tar Heels tallied 48 digs and hit .330 overall.
UNC (4-1) will face tournament host UC Davis for the final game of the Aggie Invite Saturday at 7 p.m. (PST).