CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The LSU volleyball team was dealt a 3-0 loss by North Carolina [18-25, 19-25, 14-25] Friday to cap day one of the Carolina Classic as 2,807 fans gathered at Carmichael Arena.
The Tar Heels (6-1), who are receiving votes in the latest edition of the AVCA Top 25 poll, garnered a .294 hitting percentage compared to a season-low .053 clip for LSU (2-5). UNC also outdug and outblock the Tigers by 49-44 and 8-4 margins, respectively.
LSU was paced by Desiree Elliott's 11 kills and two blocks. Madie Jones tacked on eight kills, while Cati Leak chipped in five kills to go along with a team-high 11 digs. Malorie Pardo handed out 22 assists and tallied a season-best nine digs.
Defensively, Meghan Mannari pushed her streak to six straight matches with double figure digs and recorded 10 scoops.
"First, you have to credit North Carolina because they jumped on us really fast and took it to us," head coach Fran Flory said. "Our kids didn't respond too well. It's too bad because I thought we had a great game plan. We could not stay the course. We need to play a lot more disciplined and play with a lot more aggressive style if we want to win matches like these."
UNC was fueled by Emily McGee, who powered home 14 kills and corralled 10 digs. Chaniel Nelson turned in a solid all-around effort with seven kills, nine digs and three blocks. Kayla Berringer and Tia Gaffen added six kills apiece, while Paige Neuenfeldt totaled four kills and five blocks.
Ece Taner provided a match-high 14 digs for the Tar Heel back row.
"Part of our problem is that we don't have a stabilizing force on the court right now," Flory said. "We're not balanced and we're not disciplined. When you're not those two things against a good team like North Carolina, things aren't going to go your way. That's what happened tonight."
North Carolina raced out to a 5-0 advantage in set one and led wire-to-wire during the frame. Nelson ripped three quick kills from the right side position. Down 6-1, LSU ripped off three consecutive points highlighted by a Leak kill and a Helen Boyle-Elliott block to pull back to 6-4. The Tar Heels regained the momentum and a five-point spread at 14-9 as Berringer-Gaffen teamed up for a block on Jones. McGee racked up seven of her 14 spikes during the opening stanza as North Carolina completed the 25-18 win.
The second set featured seven ties and a pair of lead changes. LSU grabbed a 9-8 edge on a Boyle spike before the Tar Heels strung together four straight points capped by a Harms kill to make it 12-9. From there, the Tigers pulled back to within two points on three occasions, the latest at 16-14. LSU committed three straight errors and picked up a 25-19 victory.
Ahead 11-9 in set three, North Carolina ran off 11 of the next 13 points to take control of the frame and secure the sweep by a 25-14 margin. LSU garnered a negative hitting percentage with 10 kills against 11 hitting miscues.
LSU wraps up its non-conference slate at the Carolina Classic Saturday against Middle Tennessee and Western Michigan, a pair of 2011 NCAA Tournament squads. First serve are scheduled for 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively. Both matches will have live audio and live stats available for free inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.
"The two matches for us are must wins," Flory said. "Tonight would have been a quality road win for us, but what's done is done. We have to move forward with two tough matches tomorrow. I think we'll bounce back. I certainly hope that the leaders of this group will challenge each other and step up. I still have a lot of confidence and belief in this team. We just have to find the right combination."
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Admission to all 2012 home matches at the Maravich Center are free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program.