Dec. 5, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The North Carolina volleyball team picked up its first NCAA tournament win since 2002 Friday night as the Tar Heels (22-10) took down host American (24-9), 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-17), to move on to the round of 32. Junior Heather Brooks led a stellar Tar Heel service attack with four service aces as the Tar Heels racked up a school NCAA tournament record eight aces in the win. The Tar Heels will face off against No. 11 Oregon (23-8) at 6 p.m. Saturday night for the right to advance to Austin, Texas for the Austin Regional semifinal.
The Tar Heels took the opening set by a 25-16 margin as Carolina forced American into nine errors, two of which came on blocks. It took the Tar Heels a few points to get their momentum going before jumping out to a 13-7 advantage midway through the first frame. Carolina would stretch its lead to seven later in the set at 18-11 and 19-12 before closing out the Eagles at 25-16. Christine Vaughen led the Tar Heel attack with three kills on four attempts, while Heather Brooks, Suzanne Haydel and Lauren Prussing all finished with two kills apiece. The junior middle Brooks picked up two additional points of her own with a pair of service aces in the opening set.
Carolina kept the momentum going into the second frame as the Tar Heels posted a nearly identical 25-17 win. The Tar Heels jumped out to an 8-2 advantage and never looked back taking a 2-0 lead over the host Eagles. After taking a nine-point lead at 19-10, the Eagles mounted a rally to cut the deficit to just four (19-15) before Carolina went on a short 5-1 run to essentially put the set away at 24-16. A service error by American closed out the set at 25-17 as the Tar Heel offense came to play hitting a robust .393 in the win.
American would test the Tar Heels in the third set as the Eagles battled Carolina to a deadlock after the opening 28 points. Carolina would make a 5-0 run to take a 19-14 lead and gain control of the third and eventual final set. The Tar Heels would close out the set and the match on an 11-3 run to claim the third set by a 25-17 margin.
Senior Lauren Prussing finished the night with a team-high 10 kills, while the middle duo of Brooks and Vaughen finished with six kills apiece. Brooks also tied a Carolina NCAA tournament record with four service aces as the Tar Heels ran up a new school record eight aces in the victory.
The Tar Heels will have a chance at redemption on Saturday at 6 p.m. when they take on Oregon who beat the Tar Heels at the Illini Invite to begin the season.