UNC Volleyball Machine: A Conversation with Coach Sagula
Photo courtesy of volleyballmag.com.
CHAPEL HILL– There are some ladies wearing Carolina jerseys who have been lighting up Carmichael Arena lately. And no, we’re not talking about the women’s basketball team. Not yet, at least.
Off to their best start and ranking in school history, the members of the Tar Heel Volleyball team are brimming with confidence.
But Head Coach Joe Sagula says his No. 10 ranked Carolina squad, currently sitting at 15-0, needs to stay grounded despite all the success they’ve been enjoying this season.
“The confidence is high, but we’re trying to keep it under control. It’s a fine line between being cocky and confident. We are trying to just walk the confidence line. The job of the coaches is to constantly remind us that we have to keep getting better,” Coach Sagula says.
Although only half way through the season, Coach Sagula says he is happy with the amount of attention the volleyball program is receiving.
Coach Sagula says he thinks the biggest growth in his Tar Heel squad has occurred in the overall balance of leadership. He says it helps to have a team full of players looking to step it up at different times.
“I think it’s a shared experience this year. And I think that’s something we were hoping for. Different people have stepped up and helped drive the team to being successful at different times,” Coach Sagula says.
Earlier in the season, redshirt junior Chaniel Nelson was ruled out for the remainder of the year due to a stress fracture in her tibia. But Coach Sagula says the diagnosis cleared up all uncertainty for the Tar Heels and has helped many of his players fill new roles.
“We were going to play hard without her until we knew what the situation was. Once we realized that, it allowed us to go forward and think about how we are going to continue and plan to get better this year with the personnel we have,” Coach Sagula says.
The Tar Heels boast an impressive 29-game home winning streak. And Coach Sagula says defending the home court in Chapel Hill is something Carolina definitely takes pride in.
“We don’t emphasize the streak. However, we do definitely talk about the fact that we want to defend Carmichael Arena. We want to make sure that we are always playing our best at home in front of our home crowd,” Coach Sagula says.
Surveying the ACC title landscape, Coach Sagula says he doesn’t have to look far for Carolina’s toughest competition. That squad happens to be just a short drive down 15-501.
And Friday’s 7 p.m. conference showdown is against those Duke Blue Devils. It will be Carolina’s annual Turn It Pink night for breast cancer awareness. Pink UNC volleyball shirts will be sold, and player jerseys will be auctioned off at Carmichael Arena.