CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Cruising to their eighth-straight victory, the Tar Heels swept Middle Tennessee State 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-23) Saturday night at Carmichael Arena, claiming the 2012 Carolina Classic title. Junior Kayla Berringer led the Tar Heels with 14 kills in Carolina's third match of the weekend, and senior Cora Harms had seven digs.
"I think it was great to win a home this weekend," head coach Joe Sagula said. "It was one of our goals, and I think it was the next step for us. The most important thing is we learned some things from this weekend, and we'll work on those things this week in preparation for our ACC opener on the road. That's what our focus is right now."
Carolina won the first set with a decisive 25-14 mark. Senior Tia Gaffen had five kills and two blocks, and sophomore Lauren Adkins added four kills. Freshman Leigh Andrew had three digs for the Tar Heels, who tallied a dominant .538 attack percentage over the Blue Raiders' .083.
Middle Tennessee State came on stronger in the second set, with the two teams evening the score eight times throughout the frame. Berringer had a big set, tallying 10 kills and three digs, while Harms added five kills with six digs. Gaffen and Adkins had eight kills apiece, with Gaffen also adding four blocks, and Andrew and Taner each recorded five digs in the Tar Heels' 25-22 set win.
Set three saw more of the even play between North Carolina and Middle Tennessee State, again with the score even at eight times throughout the frame. Berringer, Adkins and freshman Victoria McPherson had four kills each, and Nelson and McPherson each had two blocks to help limit the Blue Raider offense to a .148 attack percentage, compared to the Tar Heels' .375. A kill by Nelson followed by a block by Nelson and Gaffen ended the set at 25-23 in favor of Carolina.
Nelson and Berringer were both named to the all-tournament team, along with McGee, who was named tournament MVP.
"I'm excited and proud of our team's effort," Sagula said. "So many people contributed, and that's what I'll remember about this weekend. It was really a team victory, and a chance to be great at home. Now we have to be great at NC State on Friday, and that's what we're going to be thinking about this week."
Carolina (8-1) opens ACC play Friday at NC State before hosting Ohio on Saturday at 4 p.m.
2012 Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team:
Ashley Adams, Middle Tennessee State
Terin Norris, Western Michigan
Desiree Elliott, LSU
Sam Delahoussaye, LSU
Chaniel Nelson, North Carolina
Kayla Berringer, North Carolina
Emily McGee, North Carolina - Tournament MVP