MADISON, Wisc. - California eliminated North Carolina from the 2013 NCAA Volleyball tournament with a 3-0 (20-25, 18-25, 20-25) win on Friday at the University of Wisconsin's Field House.
Making their 15th tournament appearance, this was the Tar Heels' third-straight first round match with the Bears, who will advance to Saturday's second round to face the winner of the Wisconsin-Milwaukee match.
"It was a disappointing finish to a great year," head coach Joe Sagula said. "We just did not play close to our level, while Cal played great and very efficiently. We had opportunities and just couldn't finish like we did earlier in the season. It's very disappointing to finish like this, but we'll grow from this and move forward."
Paige Neuenfeldt finished the night with a team-high 13 kills, hitting .667 with just one error. Leigh Andrew tallied nine kills with a block and nine digs, and Hayley McCorkle and Kayla Berringer combined for 14 kills.
Carolina hit a decent .255 team attack but could not prevail with Cal's 11 team blocks and .441 hitting, led by Michelle Neumayr' 11 kills and three digs and Lara Vukasovic's 10 kills and six blocks.
Neuenfeldt tallied six kills in the opening frame, but the Bears posted six blocks with a .441 hitting percentage to stop the Tar Heels and take the set 25-20. Tied at 15-15, Carolina had a 3-1 run to take over the lead, but Cal answered with four straight and held on for the remainder of the set. Hayley McCorkle had three kills with a block, and Leigh Andrew added another three kills.
The Bears claimed the second with a 25-18 score behind a stellar .600 team attack, led by five kills from Christina Higgins. Andrew had five kills and two digs for UNC, and Neuenfeldt added another four kills, but a second-straight frame with seven errors didn't help the Tar Heels.
Berringer came on strong for Carolina in the third set, posting four kills along with McPherson's two kills and two blocks, but Cal held on for the 25-20 win to claim the sweep. Adrienne Gehan posted four kills and Vukasovic had two kills and two blocks to help the Bears, who once again took advantage of seven Carolina errors.
"I really enjoyed coaching this team this year," Sagula said. "This has been a great group of young ladies. This is an unfortunate way to lose this match. This team has done some great things throughout the year. Unfortunately, we didn't finish the way we wanted to and we'll hopefully learn from this and become better in the future."
North Carolina defeated Cal in the opening rounds of the 2011 (3-2) and 2012 (3-1) tournaments. The Bears took a 3-0 second round win over Carolina in 2010.
North Carolina finished a record-breaking season with a 27-5 overall mark and 16-4 in ACC play, which was good for a third place conference finish. UNC started out the 2013 campaign with a 15-0 record for the best season start in program history, securing its 13th 20+ win season in the past 17 years.
En route to securing the most wins in a season since the 2002 squad finished 32-4, Sagula earned his 700th career victory with an exciting 3-2 win over Maryland. The Tar Heels were ranked in the top 25 for each of the weekly AVCA Coaches Polls, peaking at No. 10 for the program's highest-ever ranking and finishing the regular season in the No. 15 spot.