RALEIGH, N.C.- NC State topped North Carolina Friday 3-1 (23-25, 16-25, 25-21, 17-25), as the Tar Heels dropped their first ACC-opener since a 3-2 Clemson loss in 1996. The Wolfpack earned their first win over UNC in an ACC-opening meeting since 1983.
"This was a disappointing loss to start the ACC season," head coach Joe Sagula said. "I give lots of credit to NC State; the fought hard and played great, and they were a really solid team tonight. We made so many unforced errors tonight, and we're not going to win any matches hitting .096 as a team. I give credit to NC State's serves tonight, but we made too many service errors, and our passing wasn't good enough. We just didn't find a way to put out a better effort in a tough environment like this way tonight."
North Carolina jumped out to an early 3-0 start in the opening frame, but the Wolfpack fought back to make it even at 5-5. The Tar Heels had a 5-1 run to make it 10-6, but NC State responded with an 8-1 run to take over the lead. UNC rallied to make it 24-23, but a service error gave the Wolfpack the set one win at 25-23. Senior Cora Harms, junior Kayla Berringer and sophomore Chaniel Nelson each had three kills, and sophomore Ece Taner had nine digs for the Tar Heels.
Behind a dominant blocking game, the Wolfpack took set two 25-16, recording five stops while UNC had none in the second frame. NC State's .250 attack percentage topped the Tar Heels' .025, although Berringer, McGee and Nelson each grabbed three kills. Harms' and Taner's four digs apiece helped the Tar Heel defense, but five kills from NC State's Brie Merriwether and three aces from Hannah Thompson put the Wolfpack on top to make it 2-0.
Down by two sets for the first time since their first match of the season, the Tar Heels rallied back in set three to take the 25-21 win and prevent NC State's first sweep since 1991. Gaffen and McGee each grabbed three kills, leading UNC to a .135 attack over NC State's .036. McGee also added four digs and an ace, along with sophomore Lauren Adkins, to give Carolina the 25-21 win for set three.
Behind nine kills from Merriwether and Meredith Richardson, the Wolfpack had an eight-point run towards the end of the fourth set as they rolled to a 25-17 win to take the match, 3-1. Neuenfeldt and Adkins each had two kills, and McGee added another three digs, but UNC's .038 attack didn't allow for a comeback.
Overall, the Tar Heels hit .096 on the attack and had 10 total team blocks, while NC State, now 10-1, finished with a .144 attack percentage and grabbed 13 blocks for the night.
North Carolina (8-2, 0-1) will host Ohio on Saturday at Carmichael Arena. The match is set for 4 p.m. and is free to the public.