Posted On: November 8, 2015
Chestnut Hill, Mass. – North Carolina found itself with its back against the wall, trailing two sets to none to the Boston College Eagles on Sunday afternoon, but the Tar Heels battled all the way back to win the match in five sets and capture their seventh straight victory, 3-2 (19-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19, 15-9). With the win, Carolina improves to 15-9 (12-2 ACC), while Boston College slips to 11-15 (3-11 ACC).
“Overall, I'm just so happy to come off this road trip with two wins,” said head coach Joe Sagula. “Every time we travel in the ACC it seems to get tougher and tougher, and to come out of Boston with this win today just shows a lot about our team. This is just a good sign for us to be able to come back. It's the first time that we've been able to come back from down 0-2, and I think it proves something for our team.”
The win extends Carolina's flawless record against Boston College to 19-0 all time, marking just the second time that the pair needed five sets to crown a victor. UNC's first five-set victory of the year, the Tar Heels came back from down 0-2 for the first time since Oct. 26, 2014, when Carolina trailed 0-2 at Georgia Tech. Boston College surrendered a 2-0 lead for the second time this year, with the first occurrence also happening in Atlanta on Sept. 27.
Senior Paige Neuenfeldt posted the first kills-blocks double-double for a Tar Heel since 2011, registering season highs with 16 kills and a team-season-best 11 stuffs.
“We set her a different kind of ball to put her in a different rhythm, and I thought she adapted really well,” said Sagula. “Paige and Vic both, we went to a different type of ball in the middle, they adapted quickly, started scoring, and they found their stride and their confidence. They were tough to beat from that point on.”
Classmate Leigh Andrew tied for the team lead with 16 kills and registered her fourth straight double-double with 15 digs, while freshman Taylor Leath recorded her first-ever double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs.
Middle hitter Victoria McPherson hit .500 with 11 kills and no errors, and Taylor Treacy added an additional nine kills.
“Leigh I thought played great,” said Sagula. “For Leigh and Paige to both get 16 kills and Leath to get 14, we needed to have that kind of production. And low and behold, Victoria had 11 kills and no errors.”
Abigail Curry was the fourth Tar Heel with a double-double in the match, posting 54 assists and 11 digs, while Sheila Doyle registered her fourth straight 20-dig performance with 21 from the back row. Senior Heather Gearhart was also influential in the come-from-behind win, notching her first double-dig digs match of ACC play with 11.
The Tar Heel blocking unit totaled 14.5 in the match, with Neuenfeldt in on all-but-three, including two solo blocks. The talented senior finishes the weekend with 456 career block assists, needing just nine stuffs to take over as Carolina's all-time leader.
“To play a team like Boston College on their Senior Day…they played with emotion and passion,” said Sagula. “Sol Calvete played great for them and we always know that Katty Workman is going to be a big factor. They controlled the tempo early and played how they wanted. Give Boston College credit. They were feisty.
“We're going to be really tired after this weekend.”
Boston College controlled the pace of the first set, winning the first two points and soon opening up a 17-10 advantage. A late flurry of kills by Leath pulled UNC within three, 20-17, but a pair of Eagle blocks pushed BC right back in front as Boston College captured its first set from Carolina since 2010 by a score of 25-19.
The second set was tight early, but a strong service run by Sol Calvete put BC on top 21-13. Carolina battled back to within three, 23-20, but a kill by McKenna Goss made it Eagle set point. The Tar Heels continued to fight, winning three straight off kills by Andrew, Leath and Taylor Fricano, but Calvete slammed one off the Carolina block to keep the Tar Heels from tying the score, giving BC its first-ever 2-0 lead over UNC, 25-23.
BC opened up a 5-1 lead to begin the third set, but a service ace by Leath helped the Heels tie the score at six. A BC block put the Eagles back in front 14-12, but Carolina exploded out of a timeout to win six straight as three kills and two blocks by Neuenfeldt gave UNC its first real lead of the match, 18-14. The Eagles replied to pull within one, 18-17, but Carolina won seven of the next 10 to win the third set, 25-20, and keep the match alive.
“We started slowly, but the third set was the difference-maker,” said Sagula. “We talked to our team during the break and said that set was going to make or break where we're going to be. We made a couple of adjustments and I thought our team just picked it up. It started with the passing, we dug more balls, and then our pins got going.”
A pair of Tar Heel blocks spotted Carolina a 5-1 lead to begin the fourth set, and UNC maintained the advantage for the remainder of the frame. An ace by Doyle made it 16-9, and Leath finished out the stanza with a kill for a 25-19 decision that sent the match to five.
Doyle served the Heels to an early lead to start the short fifth set, as her second ace of the afternoon helped run a quick 5-1 lead. A kill by Andrew had the teams trade benches with Carolina ahead 8-3, and another kill by the senior outside made it 12-8. An attack error by Calvete set up match point, and Neuenfeldt cranked one off an overpass to close out the match, 15-9, in favor of the Tar Heels.
“Give this match to the seniors,” said Sagula. “I thought from the third set on, they made the difference, from Heather Gearhart, to Vic and Paige, to Leigh; those four really made a big difference today in helping us pull this out. They just showed some great resilience. They played like you want your seniors to play.”
The Tar Heels return home next weekend for the final homestand of the season. Carolina will host Pittsburgh on Friday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m., before honoring this talented class of seniors prior to Saturday's match against Virginia Tech on Nov. 14.