ATLANTA - Georgia Tech upset No. 22 North Carolina 3-2 (18-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19, 16-18) in a close match Thursday night as the Tar Heels dropped to 21-5, 12-4 on the season. Senior Emily McGee had 13 kills and 12 digs for UNC, while junior Kayla Berringer tallied 14 kills and a block.
"This was a very disappointing match for us," UNC head coach Joe Sagula said. "I thought we came out really unfocused at the start, and that really did not set the table well for us. I was proud of how well we played in the second and fourth sets, and even in the fifth set at times, but we had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes tonight. We had 14 service errors, which we don't normally do, and that really came back to haunt us tonight. Serving and passing is where you have to win the game, and at times we were great, but at times we lost our edge in those areas."
"Other than that, it was a pretty even game in terms of kills, blocks, assists, and even service errors were almost even. But when you're on the road and at someone else's home gym, it gives them a little edge, and they played a great match tonight. We need to learn from this and move on, and really get refocused now," Sagula said.
Georgia Tech came out hard in the first game with a 25-18 victory as the Tar Heels hit just .091 to the Yellow Jackets' .371. Berringer and sophomore Chaniel Nelson each had six kills, and Nelson also added three blocks. Freshman Jordyn Schnabl tallied 10 assists and four digs, and sophomore Ece Taner had six digs, but Georgia Tech's Monique Mead and Bailey Hunter combined for 18 kills, three blocks and five digs to stop UNC.
The Tar Heels fought back to take set two 25-19, hitting a much stronger .324 behind six kills and two blocks from Nelson. Schnabl added nine more assists and four digs, while freshman Paige Neuenfeldt recorded two blocks, and Taner had four more digs, limiting the Yellow Jackets' attack to just .069.
The Yellow Jackets took the third set 25-18, as UNC hit .037 with seven attack errors in the frame. Neuenfeldt tallied four kills and a block for Carolina, but Georgia Tech's Mead had four kills and an ace, and Hunter had three kills and an ace to help the Yellow Jackets.
North Carolina again fought back to take a 25-19 win in the fourth, capitalizing on 10 attack errors by the Yellow Jackets as McGee had five kills three digs and three blocks to lead the Tar Heels through the frame. Berringer added another four kills and a block, while Neuenfeldt recorded four blocks for UNC.
After four match points in the final frame, the Yellow Jackets took the match with an 18-16 fifth-set score. Berringer had four kills, and McGee added three kills and two digs to help the Tar Heels, but Georgia Tech's .375 attack topped UNC's .276. Hunter had three kills and a block, and Mead added two kills, four digs and a block to help the Yellow Jackets.
North Carolina heads to Clemson next to face the Tigers Saturday at 7:30 p.m.