CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina downed Duke 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 15-7) on Sunday as four Tar Heels claimed double-digit kills, led by senior Emily McGee and sophomore Chaniel Nelson who each finished the match with double-digit kills as well as digs.
"I'm delighted to get the victory today," head coach Joe Sagula said. "It was a hard-fought match, and I thought Duke played really hard. I'm really happy for the seniors to be able to get a victory like this at home and in front of a really nice crowd of more than 1,800 people."
"We've been getting off to a slower start but have found ways to pick it up. Our biggest challenge from now on, though, will be to start stronger, and I think if we do that, we'll have the opportunity to really put teams away, but we haven't done that in the last few matches. Overall, it was phenomenal having four players in double-digit kills, which doesn't happen that often, and in addition to great play from Emily, Chaniel, Kayla and Tia, Lauren had some huge contributions for us as well, and Ece had one of her best matches yet today."
Duke took set one 25-22 behind a .310 attack, topping Carolina's .196. McGee had five kills, and sophomore Ece Taner had eight digs for Carolina while Nelson added two digs, two kills and two blocks. The Blue Devils recorded four blocks and tallied four digs from Breanna Atkinson and six digs from Ali McCurdy.
Down 21-22 in set two, the Tar Heels rallied back behind four straight points to reverse the score for a 25-22 win. McGee had another five kills, senior Cora Harms added seven digs, and senior Tia Gaffen had three blocks as Carolina attack improved from set one to .220. Duke's Jeme Obeime had six kills and Nailah Waterfield had eight digs.
Carolina jumped out to an early 5-1 lead at the start of the frame, controlling the lead for the entire set before taking the 25-21 win. Junior Kayla Berringer had four kills, and Taner had five digs, while sophomore Cameron Van Noy contributed four blocks, and Nelson added three. Duke's McCurdy had 10 digs, and Obeime had another five kills, but the Tar Heels' .192 attack and five team blocks stopped the Blue Devils' .159 percentage.
Duke bounced back in set four, and behind strong defensive play that included six team blocks, the Blue Devils won 25-22. The Tar Heels still played strong, tallying five kills from Berringer and four apiece from Nelson and sophomore Lauren Adkins, while Harms had nine digs and Taner had six.
Taner's five digs and three kills apiece from Gaffen, Nelson and McGee clinched the Tar Heels' fifth-set 15-7 win to beat Duke. Van Noy had another two blocks to contribute to the team's three total blocks, which limited the Blue Devil offense to .000 while Carolina recorded a .333 attack.
With Sunday's win, the Tar Heels are now 6-0 at home this season as they claimed their first win over Duke in their last five meetings.
"We're just real excited for the team and our seniors to get this victory today," Sagula said. "And right now we're going to enjoy this and get ready for our two matches at home this week."
The Tar Heels, 11-2 (2-1) will play Clemson this Wednesday at 6 p.m. in a nationally televised match on ESPNU before closing their home stand next Sunday, Sept. 30, when they host Georgia Tech at 1 p.m.