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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Virginia volleyball team lost a tough defensive battle to North Carolina Saturday evening in Carmichael Arena, 0-3 (23-25, 21-25, 22-25). The Cavaliers earned 69 digs throughout the match, the most in a three-set match all season, but fell to 10-11 on the year and 4-7 in the ACC. With the win, North Carolina improves to 18-6 overall and 9-2 in conference play.

Virginia was led offensively by junior Simone Asque’s 11 kills, while redshirt sophomore Beth Wildermuth recorded her fourth collegiate double-double, distributing 34 assists and earning 13 digs.

Freshman Emily Rottman led the defense with a match-high 21 digs, while senior AJ Cushman contributed 17. At the net, senior Sydney Hill had a team-best three blocks.

For North Carolina, Emily McGee landed 13 kills, while Shelbey Bleke earned a match-high seven blocks. Each of the Tar Heels’ setters, Cora Harms and Erica Behm, recorded double-doubles, with Harms finishing the evening with 17 assists and 15 digs, while Behm had 15 assists and 11 digs.

The squads concluded the match with similar stat lines. North Carolina held the slight advantage in kills (43-42), attack percentage (.191-.131), and blocks (9.0-4.0), while the Cavaliers led the way in digs (69-68) and aces (4-2).

The first set was an evenly matched defensive effort, with North Carolina’s defense gathering seven blocks and 13 digs, while holding the Cavaliers’ offense to a -.050 clip. Meanwhile, Virginia scooped up 17 digs and two blocks, while holding the Tar Heels to a .000 attack percentage. Throughout play, neither team was able to gain more than a three-point advantage, resulting in seven tie scores, including one at 23-23, and four lead changes. But it was the Tar Heels, despite being down two, at 23-21, that strung together five-straight points to come-from-behind and steal a 25-23 set win.

The Cavaliers fell behind early in the second stanza, 12-8, but clawed their way back into the frame – cutting their deficit to one, at 16-15. North Carolina briefly halted the streak, extending its lead back to four, at 20-16, but four-straight points by Virginia evened the score at 20 all. Back-to-back attack errors on the Cavaliers gave the home team a two-point advantage, 22-20, before Virginia won a long rally – but the point was reversed due to a call earlier in the play, giving UNC a 23-20 lead. An attack error on the Tar Heels brought the score to 23-21, before they secured the final two points needed for a 25-21 victory.

Neither team could swing the momentum its way throughout the third set, leading to 17 tie scores and an even 19-19 score. Carolina used a 4-0 run to break open the back-and-forth play, taking a 23-19 lead, but the Cavaliers would answer and cut UNC’s lead to one, at 23-22. The run wouldn’t be enough though, as the Tar Heels dropped back-to-back kills to take the match with a 25-22 win.

Virginia will return to action next weekend, hosting Miami and Florida State. The Cavaliers will face the Hurricanes Friday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m., before playing the Seminoles Sunday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m.

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