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U of U volleyball: Utes volleyball falls to North Carolina

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DAVIS, Calif. – Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield claimed her third double-double of the season, but the University of Utah volleyball team could not avoid a three-set defeat to North Carolina (17-25, 19-25, 16-25) Saturday in its finale at the UC Davis Aggie Invitational.

Utah (6-2) was held to a season low 4.0 blocks per set, while North Carolina was credited with 5.0. The Utes were also limited to a .178 hitting percentage, its second-lowest mark of the season, compared to a .330 mark for the Tar Heels. UNC served eight aces, while the Utes were unable to register an ace in a match for the first time this season.

Schofield turned in a team-high 11 digs and 10 kills for her 11th career double-double performance.

Junior outside hitter Morgan Odale joined Schofield in double-digits in digs with 11, while also swinging for seven kills.

Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman contributed six kills without an attack error for a team-high .400 hitting percentage.

Senior setter McKenzie Odale coordinated the Ute attack with 27 assists and also pitched in seven digs to help the Utah defense.

The Tar Heels stormed out to a 7-3 lead in the opener, and the Utes could never truly get into a rhythm in the set and eventually fell, 25-17. UNC limited Utah to a .108 hitting percentage on the attack, while going for a .231 mark themselves. Schofield collected team-high marks of seven digs and four kills in the first frame.

Utah benefited from a much improved start in the second frame as there were four ties (9-9) before UNC strung together five straight points to assume a 14-9 lead. The Tar Heels went on to lead by as many as seven (17-10) before grabbing a 25-19 second-set victory and a 2-0 edge in the match. The Utes hit .242 in the set with three players – Bateman, Schofield and junior middle blocker Erin Redd – hitting for three kills apiece. Utah earned a 2.0 to 1.0 edge in team blocks, but UNC went for a .341 clip on the attack in the frame.

In the third set, UNC took three of the first four scores before back-to-back Utah points forced the second tie of the frame. The Tar Heels reeled off four unanswered scores and would lead by as many as 10 (21-11) en route to a 25-16 match-clinching victory. North Carolina ran a crisp offense in the frame, sporting a .438 percentage on the attack, compared to .194 for Utah. Morgan Odale had three kills and three digs in the set, while Schofield added three kills.

North Carolina (4-1) was led by Chaniel Nelson, who turned in a match-high 13 kills to go with a .333 percentage on the attack. Cora Harms set up the Tar Heels with 41 assists, while Ece Taner turned in 21 digs.

The Utes will play in the BYU Invitational next weekend, beginning Friday against BYU. First serve from Smith Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m. MT. The match will be televised live on BYU-TV.