A No. 3 ranking, successes over top-25 opponents Michigan, Georgia Tech and Clemson, and a perfect 3-0 ACC record had the Hurricanes flying high over the past week.
On Wednesday afternoon, North Carolina (10-3, 1-0 ACC), showed Miami that they are a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.
The No.6 Tar Heels came into Coral Gables on Wednesday night and stole one away from the Hurricanes, picking up the 4-3 overall win. For the Hurricanes (10-3, 3-1 ACC), the loss is their first since mid-February, when they fell to the UCLA Bruins.
“Obviously we’re disappointed in the outcome, but happy with the way the girls competed,” said head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews. “It was a tough match, it came down to just a few details.”
The doubles tandem of Gabriela Mejia and Melissa Bolivar started the day with an 8-2 victory over North Carolina’s Jelena Durisic and Tessa Lyons. Miami’s next two doubles matches went down to the wire, however. The Canes lost both 9-8, giving the Tar Heels the doubles point.
“We knew the doubles point was really important today, and starting off down 1-0 was big,” Yaroshuk said.
In singles play, Miami was able to tie the score up at one apiece when Bianca Eichkorn, the reigning ACC Player of the Week and No.10-ranked player in the country, dismantled the No. 14-ranked Zoe De Bruycker (6-2, 6-0). Miami took a 3-1 overall lead when both Anna Bartenstein (6-3, 6-4) and Gabriela Mejia (6-4, 6-2) won the next two matches.
That’s when things began to unravel for the Canes.
After losing the first set 6-2, Miami’s Melissa Bolivar fought back to win her second set 6-3.Durisic won the final set and the match for North Carolina, and the Tar Heels swept their way through the final two matches.
“We always want to win and today we came a little bit short, but some upcoming matches hopefully we’ll be winning again,” said Anna Bartenstein, who has won five straight matches at the No. 2 position.
Every opponent for the Hurricanes in the last two weeks was ranked in the top 25.
“Of course it’s hard. These girls physically have gone through a lot,” said Yaroshuk. “We’re all competitors and we all want to win, but its going to prepare us for April and May, and that’s why the schedule is what it is.”
The Canes hit the road for their next four matches. On Saturday, they face off against Texas Christian University before taking on No. 7 Baylor on Monday afternoon.
Ernesto Suarez may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Austen Gregerson contributed to this report.