CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Carolina held off Virginia 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 26-24, 17-25, 15-11) Friday, denying the Cavaliers their first ACC win of the season and improving to 14-4 (5-3) on the season. Senior Emily McGee finished the night with 18 kills and eight digs to lead the Tar Heels.
"I feel very fortunate that we can get out of here and escape with a victory tonight," head coach Joe Sagula said. "Virginia played great tonight and really brought a relentless game. Fortunately for us, they made some service errors that let us off the hook in some tight situations in the last three games."
"Statistically, we shouldn't have won this match, but we just made some good plays at the right time, especially in game five. Virginia played tough, but we were able to hold them off, and we're fortunate to get out of here with a win against a very scrappy team," Sagula said.
Carolina took the first set 25-18 behind a strong .321 team attack, led by three kills apiece from McGee, sophomore Chaniel Nelson and junior Kayla Berringer. Nelson also added four blocks, and McGee added four digs for UNC. The Tar Heels also tallied three aces in the first frame from freshmen Leigh Andrew and Paige Neuenfeldt, and senior Cora Harms.
The Cavaliers responded with a set two 25-21 win, hitting .433 as the Tar Heels had six errors in the frame. Neuenfeldt and Gaffen each had four kills, with sophomore Ece Taner adding five digs and Andrew recording two digs and an ace. Virginia's Natalie Bausback had five kills, three digs and a block to lead the Cavaliers.
Despite a .069 attack in the third frame, the Tar Heels grabbed an extra-points 26-24 win behind six kills from McGee and four digs from Andrew. Senior Tia Gaffen had two blocks, and Taner added three digs to boost the Tar Heels. Bausback had six kills for Virginia.
UVa forced a fifth set by taking the fourth 25-17, hitting .345 to top UNC's .114. Sophomore Lauren Adkins had three kills and two digs for Carolina, but four aces from the Cavaliers with five kills from Bausback and five digs from Emily Rottman was enough for Virginia to even the match at 2-2.
North Carolina opened set five with four-straight points, but the Cavaliers responded with four of their own. Behind three aces from freshman Jordyn Schnabl and four kills from McGee, Carolina held on to take the 15-11 final set win as Taner also added four digs.