The NC State volleyball team was swept 3-0 by the No. 2 Louisville Cardinals on Friday, Nov. 5 in Reynolds Coliseum for the team’s second straight loss to a ranked opponent after falling to No. 14 Georgia Tech on Halloween.
The Wolfpack (13-11, 7-6 ACC) lost the first set by six points, the second set by five points, and the third set by four points against the Cardinals (22-0, 12-0 ACC).
“Our passing was nonexistent, a disaster,” said head coach Luka Slabe. “We couldn’t get any rhythm offensively. It’s so hard to gain any offensive momentum if you cannot pass the ball.”
The two teams began the first set back and forth, but Louisville went on a 6-0 run to go up 10-5 and would not relinquish the lead, going up by as many as eight en route to a 25-19 set win to take a 1-0 match lead.
The second set was much like the first as Louisville went on an early 5-0 to open up a lead and again never fell behind, leading by as many as seven. The Pack at one point cut the lead to three at 16-13, but was unable to sustain a sufficient enough run as the Cardinals took the set 25-20 to go up 2-0.
NC State was able to keep it tight longer into the third set, but Louisville was once again able to open up the lead on a 4-0 to go up 15-10. The Pack cut the deficit back to one at 19-18, but the Cardinals closed out the set to win 25-21 and clinch the match.
Against one of the best teams in the country, the Pack never let the match become a blowout and kept it relatively close throughout, but it was ultimately unable to come up with enough consistent scoring to win a set.
“I think we competed hard the entire time,” said graduate libero Kaylee Frazier. “[Louisville] just was cleaner, they were executing better than we were. In serve receive, we just couldn’t stay in system enough. They’re a really good serving team, so it’s hard.”
NC State had a hitting percentage of .160 compared to Louisville’s .250 and had 37 kills to 38 from the Cardinals. Graduate opposite hitter Melissa Evans led the team in kills and digs with 10 each, while junior setter Kristen McDaniel led the team in assists with 25.
All seven of the Pack’s ACC wins have come against teams that it sits ahead of in the conference standings, while all of the team’s losses have come against opponents that are ahead in the conference. In order to get over the hump and beat some of the better teams in the ACC, the Pack needs to be more consistent.
“We fight, but we have ups-and-downs that those top teams don’t have,” Frazier said. “We’re just not consistent enough yet. All those teams, whether they have the best game or the worst game, they’re still consistent, whereas our worst games are really bad and our best games our really good. We just need to find that middle ground.”
In the program’s second year under Slabe, the team still has a ways to go in order to be able to compete with the best of the best.
“We’re not even close to where we need to be,” Slabe said. “Every area of the game, we’re just a little bit worse than the other teams that are better right now. When those things are combined together — serve, block, defense, setting — there’s a difference between winning 3-1 or losing 3-1 when all these little things happen.”
Next up, NC State hosts Notre Dame on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. The match will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.