CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No. 15 UNC swept No. 16 Illinois 3-0 Friday night, improving to 10-0 for the Tar Heels' best season start in school history.
Winning their 26th-straight match in Carmichael Arena, the Tar Heels dominated Illinois from the first serve to the final kill in front of a packed crowd of 2,112 fans.
"I couldn't be any proud of this team," head coach Joe Sagula said. "They rose to the level of the challenge and met the expectations set for them. Our intensity came out in such a strong level, and we set the tone early with our defense and with some great swings for how the match would go."
"The court tonight was owned by Ece Taner and Leigh Andrew. They were phenomenal. That was probably the best combination of two players that I've seen all year, but we also really played well across the net as an entire team."
Carolina set the tone early, taking set one 25-18 as Bjelica and McPherson each posted four kills and two blocks apiece.
The Tar Heels kept up their dominance in the second set, going out to an early 7-3 lead and easily taking the set 25-15. Andrew and Taner racked up six digs each for the Tar Heels, and Bjelica tacked on another five kills.
The Heels put up a .367 team attack while holding Illinois to .031 to complete the sweep in the third set. An additional five kills from Bjelica and seven digs from Taner led to the Tar Heels' victory in the final set.
"This was a statement match for us," Sagula said. "We knew Illinois was a good team, but we were fortunate tonight. The new challenge now is to come back tomorrow night against a good Indiana team."
Up Next: UNC vs. Indiana