Miami’s volleyball team fell to the No. 9-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in a 3-0 sweep in Chapel Hill on Sunday.
The Hurricanes had a tall challenge, both literally and figuratively. The Tar Heels went into the match with wins over other top-10 programs Penn State and Wisconsin. North Carolina also boasts a roster with seven players at 6-foot-3 or taller.
The first set started off with both teams trading points after long rallies, but UNC (15-2, 6-0 ACC) quickly took control by using its size to dominate at the net.
Middle hitter Sydnye Fields led the charge for North Carolina up front, blocking numerous shots and taking Miami (7-11, 1-5 ACC) out of its attacking rhythm. UNC also put most of its focus on UM’s best attacker, junior outside hitter Olga Strantzali, which proved to be effective. Strantzali ended the match with a respectable 16 kills, but the Tar Heels forced her into 14 errors and limited her hitting percentage to just .038 on the match.
North Carolina took the first set 25-20 and didn’t look back from there. Miami was helpless against the height and length of North Carolina at times in the second set. The Hurricanes couldn’t match up at the net and had a hard time communicating on serves, which led to a 25-10 dismantling.
After halftime, UM came out with considerably more energy and got out to a quick 7-3 lead in the third set. However, it didn’t last as multiple unforced errors let UNC get on a quick six-point run and take the lead for good. The Tar Heels swept the match from the Canes with a 25-18 third set victory.
Miami certainly has its work cut out for it if it wants to be able to compete with the top teams in the ACC. Consistency and accuracy when attacking will need to improve when facing tall teams, as evidenced by the team’s woeful hitting percentage of .055 in Sunday’s match.
The Hurricanes will look to get back on track with a home match against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Knight Sports Complex.