CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - UNC defeated Western Michigan 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 28-26, 25-20) on Saturday, winning their second match of the Carolina Classic and seventh straight competition. Senior Emily McGee paced the Tar Heels with 18 kills and 10 digs, sophomore Chaniel Nelson finished with 17 kills, and senior Cora Harms had 19 digs for UNC.
"I think Western Michigan is a really good team- they fight hard, they make you work for your points, and they certainly did that against us today," head coach Joe Sagula said. "It was an unemotional match for us, but it was one that I'm glad we perservered to get through. It's tough to play that middle match of the tournament because we had such an emotional win and excited match last night. To come back the next day and play this team in the middle of the day that was a really strong team, I think that was a really big win for us. I think Western Michigan is really good, they way they play defense and never stop fighting, and I would not be surprised if they were an NCAA caliber team."
"I'm just proud of our team and how we've stayed in it. Paige had some really big kills for us, and Chaniel was outstanding. She was really special today, and I was just really proud of how she played and how the team stayed together," Sagula said.
In set one, the Broncos took an early 4-2 lead, but UNC responded with a 6-1 run to take the lead the remainder of the set, winning 25-17. McGee had four kills with three digs, while Harms grabbed 12 assists with five digs and Gaffen had an ace for the Tar Heels. Carolina hit .353 to top Western Michigan's .158 in the first frame.
Western Michigan again took an early 4-2 lead, but this set the Broncos were able to keep their rhythm and take the 25-23 win over UNC. Western Michigan improved their attack to .345, limiting the Tar Heels to .239. McGee had four kills and Harms added six digs. Freshman Leigh Andrew, returning from an ankle injury, saw playing time for the first time this season, recording three digs for UNC.
The Broncos' topped the Tar Heels in kills (20 to 19) and digs (20 to 14), but Carolina was able to score when it counted, clinching the set 28-26 off a final ace by Nelson. McGee had six digs with five kills, and Nelson had six kills to lead UNC through the set. Gaffen added her third ace of the match, and freshman Paige Neuenfeldt grabbed four kills.
UNC had more control of the fourth set, winning 25-20 for the match win. Nelson and McGee each had four kills, and Harms added five digs. Taner's ace made it match point for the Tar Heels, 24-19, but the Broncos' made it 24-20 off a kill by Jessica Brown. Carolina was able to close down Western Michigan on an attack error by the Broncos' Ali Gossen to secure their second win of the tournament.
North Carolina, now 7-1, will face Middle Tennessee State tonight at 7:30 p.m. for the final game of the 2012 Carolina Classic.