OKLAHOMA CITY – North Carolina outside hitter Taylor Leath was selected as the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I Player of the Week on Tuesday after her spectacular performance at No. 10 Florida State on Sunday. The Tar Heel sophomore, who earned ACC Co-Player of the Week on Monday, is the first Tar Heel in program history to be named National Player of the Week by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Carolina made quick work of then-No. 16 Florida State at home on Oct. 7 behind a double-double (13 kills, 12 digs) from Taylor Leath, but 30 days later, the Tar Heels found themselves trailing the No. 10 Seminoles in Tallahassee two sets to none. Leath and the Tar Heels never gave in, exploding out of intermission to win the third set 25-11 then taking a quick 8-1 lead in the fourth. The Seminoles fought back to take a late 21-18 lead but Carolina held strong, winning seven of the last eight points to take the fourth set 25-22 behind seven kills by Leath.
The Tar Heels faced elimination once again, falling behind 9-5 then 13-10 in the deciding fifth set, but the redshirt sophomore turned the tables for Carolina, slamming back-to-back kills to cut the deficit to one at 13-12, then teamed up with Beth Nordhorn for a block on match point to seal up the momentous 15-13 victory and capture UNC’s third win over a top-10 team in 2016.
In total, Leath turned in a remarkable all-around performance, hitting .360 with 26 kills and 13 digs for her eighth career double-double and third over a top-10 opponent this season. The Port Matilda, Pennsylvania, native registered the most kills for a Tar Heel since 2005 while leading Carolina to its first win in Tallahassee since 2008 and the first season sweep of the Seminoles since 2000.
Leath has proved herself time and again in big situations this season, averaging 22.3 kills and 16 kills during Carolina’s unprecedented three victories over top-10 opponents.
“To put it simply, I am very proud of Taylor and this program’s accomplishments so far this season,” head coach Joe Sagula said. “She inspired her teammates and they responded with a great team effort to be able to come from behind in numerous sets. I am very proud of her leadership and how hard she worked on the court.”