Carolina Volleyball Primed for NCAA Tourney Run

CHAPEL HILL– Most fall sports have wrapped up by now, but the No. 15 Tar Heel volleyball team, finishing with a 27-4 overall record, is poised to begin its 2013 NCAA Tournament journey with aspirations of making a deep title push.

This marks Head Coach Joe Sagula’s 11th NCAA appearance in his 24 years at the helm of Carolina volleyball, but this year’s squad may be his most promising since the 2002 team that made it all the way to the semifinals.

Coach Sagula says one of the keys to the success of the team is balance.

“I think what’s really made us a good team this year is balance – balanced in terms of on the court and our success. We don’t rely on one player alone to carry us. We need a number of people to be good,” Coach Sagula says.

Coach Sagula recently picked up his 700th win of his career. He says milestones like that one only come with exceptional players and great support from the University.

“Coaches don’t get milestones without all the support of people around them, from the administration here at Carolina to the players who get it done on the court. You have to have great players to win a lot matches. I’ve been very fortunate. We’ve recruited some great kids,” Coach Sagula says.

Versatility and depth are a couple of Carolina’s strengths this season. Coach Sagula says the Tar Heels must continue to share the ball despite the lineup.

“For us, they key is that we continue to have a balanced attack offensively and that we can spread the ball around amongst our outside hitters, our middle hitters and our right side hitters. We can score effectively from any one of the three front row positions. That’s one of the keys,” Coach Sagula says.

So what are the ultimate predictors of success in the NCAA Tournament? Coach Sagula says it will all come down to the serve and return.

“We say at the beginning of the season, and we say at the end, the team that wins the serving and passing game is the team that’s going to be successful. Hitting is great. Blocking is important. But you maintain the level of play by how tough you serve and how well you pass your opponent’s serves,” Coach Sagula says.

The Tar Heels will face 17-12 California in the first round in Madison, Wisc., on Friday at 6 p.m. ET. The winner of that encounter will face the winner of the No. 12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee match in the second round on Saturday.

California is certainly a familiar opponent for Carolina. It will be the fourth-straight year the Tar Heels and Bears will meet in the NCAA Tournament and the third-straight opening round match for the two programs.

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-volleyball-primed-ncaa-tourney-run/

UNC Volleyball To Face Cal For Third-Straight Year In NCAA 1st Round

CHAPEL HILL – The No. 14 UNC volleyball team will face 17-12 California in the Champaign Regional of the NCAA tournament.

The Tar Heels finished the season at 27-4, 16-4 and in third place in the ACC after starting the season 15-0. Carolina lost its final game of the regular season to Duke 3-2 which determined the ACC championship.

This marks the third consecutive year UNC and Cal will meet in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels defeated the Golden Bears last year, 3-1, and fell to the Iowa State Cyclones in the second round, 3-2.

Carolina and California will square off in Madison, Wisconsin Friday, December 6.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-volleyball-face-cal-third-straight-year-ncaa-1st-round/

700 Milestone: Carolina Volleyball ‘Killing It’ as Postseason Draws Near

CHAPEL HILL– Following a scrappy 3-2 win over Maryland on Sunday, the Tar Heel volleyball team improved to 26-3 overall and 15-3 in conference play.

This season marks the first time Carolina has reached 26 wins in the regular season since 2002.

Head Coach Joe Sagula says he was proud of his players for staying aggressive and going for their shots in the tight moments against Maryland.

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“I thought we stayed aggressive during that entire time. I kept telling them we wanted them to go after it and to attack as much as we could. You’re not going to win a close match just sitting back and waiting for a team to make an error,” Coach Sagula says. 

Coach Sagula says the key to Carolina’s success on the court this season comes from the balance. The Tar Heels don’t rely on just one player for production.

“I think what’s really made us a good team this year is balance – balanced in terms of on the court and our success. We don’t rely on one player alone to carry us. We need a number of people to be good,” Coach Sagula says.

Sunday’s win marked the 700th career win for Coach Sagula. He says he couldn’t have reached the milestone without great support from the UNC administration and all his outstanding players throughout his 24 years at Carolina.

“Coaches don’t get milestones without all the support of people around them, from the administration here at Carolina to the players who get it done on the court. You have to have great players to win a lot matches. I’ve been very fortunate. We’ve recruited some great kids,” Coach Sagula says.

The Tar Heels close out their regular season with two away matches against Wake Forest on Wednesday and Duke on Friday. Postseason play awaits Coach Sagula’s squad soon after.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/700-milestone-carolina-volleyball-killing-postseason-draws-near/

VBall: Sagula Gets 700th Victory In Spectacular 3-2 Win Vs. Terps

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Head coach Joe Sagula earned his 700th career victory as North Carolina claimed a gutsy 3-2 victory over Maryland on Sunday at the Comcast Pavillion.

Sagula, who is in his 24th season at Carolina, now has a career record of 700-413 in his 33rd year of coaching, including time at the University of Pennsylvania before taking over the helm at UNC.

“Today’s win was an unbelievable comeback for us,” Sagula said. “I thought Maryland played so well. We knew they’d be a tough team and block well. We really had a tough time getting balls past them, and we lost patience at times. I was really proud, though, that we never backed down at the end and showed a lot of mental toughness.”

“Regarding the 700 wins, what comes to mind is thankfulness. I’m thankful to be here with this team. They’re very special people. To be here with them and to celebrate with them is wonderful. I’m also thankful for all the people that have been involved with my coaching over the years,” Sagula said.

Jovana Bjelica finished with season-highs of 20 kills and 18 digs, and Hayley McCorkle posted a career-high 18 kills to lead the Tar Heels, now 26-3 overall and 15-3 in conference play. This is the first time Carolina has reached 26 wins during the regular season since 2002.

The Tar Heels took the first set after holding off a Maryland set point at 24-23 to force extra points and take the frame 29-27. Bjelica posted six kills with six digs, and McCorkle added another four kills for Carolina.

Bjelica and McCorkle each tallied four kills with a block as Carolina took set two, 25-19. Neuenfeldt and Victoria McPherson added two kills and two blocks apiece, and Andrew posted two kills with five digs and a block as UNC held off the Terrapins to take a 2-0 match lead.

Maryland took the extra-points win in set three, 28-26, but the Tar Heels put up a strong battle. With the score tied at 10-10, Maryland posted an 11-3 run to go up 21-13, but the Tar Heels responded with seven straight points to bring it to 21-20, tying the score at 26-26 before the Terps claimed the set. Bjelica had five kills and six digs, and Andrew had four kills with a block for UNC.

It was 4-4 early in set four before the Terps picked up momentum to take the 20-12 lead. UNC brought it within five, 24-19, before Maryland took the frame 25-19 and forced a fifth set. Bjelica tacked on another five kills and Andrew had three kills with seven digs, but Maryland tallied eight team blocks to hold UNC to a .000 attack.

UNC held on through six match-points to take the final frame, 20-18, and claim the match victory. McCorkle was phenomenal in the fifth set particularly, posting six kills, including two to hold off match-points for Maryland, as well as a block. McPherson also added three much-needed blocks, while Jordyn Schnabl added two as well.

Up Next: Carolina closes out the regular season with two final away matches. UNC heads to Wake Forest on Wednesday for a 1 p.m. match and then to current ACC leader Duke for a 3 p.m. Friday match.

The Tar Heels will await their postseason lot, which will be announced during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, Dec. 1, at 9:30 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/vball-sagula-gets-700th-victory-spectacular-3-2-win-vs-terps/

Sweeping Machine: Tar Heel Volleyball Wipes Aside N.C. State

RALEIGH– No. 14 Carolina volleyball had no problems polishing off N.C.State in three straight sets Wednesday night in Raleigh.

The Tar Heels earned their third straight sweep of the Wolfpack and improved to 25-3 and 14-3 in conference play while N.C. State fell to 20-9 overall and 11-6 in the ACC.

Jovana Bjelica and Paige Neuenfeldt combined for 18 kills and eight bocks to lead the Carolina offense. Head Coach Joe Sagula says he was thrilled with the balanced attack and the efficient serving of his team.

Next up for the Tar Heels is a road trip up to College Park to take on Maryland on Sunday at 2 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/sweeping-machine-tar-heel-volleyball-wipes-aside-n-c-state/

No. 14 Tar Heel Volleyball Takes on N.C. State

CHAPEL HILL– The No. 14 Tar Heels, 24-3 overall and 13-3 in ACC play, will take on N.C.State Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Raleigh.

Carolina is looking to close out the year strong as UNC has just four more matches, all on the road, remaining in the regular season. On Nov. 29, the Tar Heels will close out their regular season against rival Duke, a team that snapped UNC’s bid at an undefeated season.

Jovana Bjelica leads UNC with 297 kills, 24 aces, 129 digs and 52 blocks while Paige Neuenfeldt is third in the conference with a .364 hitting percentage.

No. 14 UNC is 77-29 all-time against the Wolfpack, who are 20-8 overall and 11-5 in conference this season.

The Tar Heels come into the contest on a roll after sweeping Virginia Tech and dismissing Virginia 3-1 last weekend.

The 7 p.m. match can be viewed online via ESPN3.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/no-14-tar-heel-volleyball-takes-on-n-c-state/

No. 15 Volleyball Wrapping Up Regular Season at Carmichael

CHAPEL HILL– The No. 15 Carolina volleyball team is ready to finish out their regular season in style with a visit from a pair of teams they’ve beaten earlier in the season.

The 22-3 Tar Heels are 11-3 in conference and face 20-8 Virginia Tech Friday night at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Carolina will take on the Cavaliers of Virginia for Senior Night. UVA is 15-11 overall and 8-6 in league play.

Carolina will honor Kaitlyn Anderson, Kayla Berringer and Jovana Bjelica before Saturday’s match.

Admission is free to both matches at Carmichael Arena and GoHeelsTV will broadcast the action online.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/no-15-volleyball-wrapping-up-regular-season-at-carmichael/

Volleyball Starts Florida Swing with Seminoles

Photo courtesy of GoHeels.com

CHAPEL HILL– No. 12 UNC volleyball kicks off its Florida swing Friday night against the No. 20 Florida State Seminoles.

For the first time under head coach Joe Sagula, the Tar Heels reached 20 wins before November. Last time out on the court, the Tar Heels shut down Pittsburgh 3-1.

Star Tar Heel player Jovana Bjelica leads the team with 232 kills, 20 aces, and 41 blocks while Leigh Andrew has posted 161 kills of her own to go along with 219 digs.

UNC is 20-36 all-time against FSU, but Carolina currently sits tied atop the ACC standings with a 9-1 record in conference and a 20-1 mark overall.

Florida State enters with a 17-5 overall record and 8-2 tally in conference play.  The 7 p.m. match Friday night can be viewed on ESPN3.

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/volleyball-starts-florida-swing-with-seminoles/

Carolina Volleyball Claims 20th Win of Season

Photo courtesy of GoHeels.com

CHAPEL HILL– UNC Volleyball just keeps cruising along. Head Coach Joe Sagula has his girls flying around the court this season and on Sunday, they notched a 3-1 victory over ACC newcomer Pittsburgh in Chapel Hill.

Standout performer Jovana Bjelica tallied 16 kills and four blocks while Victoria McPherson tied her season-high with 14 kills.

“We had a really great team effort today, and I was proud of how we got better as the match went along,” head coach Joe Sagula said. “Pitt was a really good team, they serve tough, defend well, and Jessica Wynn really played a great match for them.”

With the win, Carolina improved to 20-1 on the season and 9-1 in the ACC.

Next up for the Tar Heels comes a weekend trip to the Sunshine State. A Friday night match against No.18 Florida State and a Sunday meeting with the Miami Hurricanes are on tap for this Carolina squad.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-volleyball-claims-20th-win-of-season/

Road Warriors: Tar Heel Volleyball Completes Weekend Double

CHAPEL HILL– The No.13 Tar Heel volleyball team conjured up some Saturday night magic.

The Tar Heels rallied from a 2-1 deficit to earn an impressive 3-2 road victory over Virginia Tech Saturday to cap off a successful weekend in the state of Virginia.

The star performer was Jovana Bjelica with 17 kills on the night to lead Carolina to the rally.

Carolina downed the Cavaliers of Virginia the night before in three straight sets. With the pair of wins, UNC improved to 18-1 overall and 7-1 in conference action.

Next up for the Tar Heels comes a return to Chapel Hill next weekend, facing Maryland on Friday at 5 p.m. prior to Late Night with Roy at the Dean Smith Center.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/road-warriors-tar-heel-volleyball-completes-weekend-double/