Basketball has begun in Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina women’s team seeks to rebound from a tough season a year ago, while UNC’s fall non-revenue sports are wrapping up. The field hockey has made that made its Final Four, and the volleyball team has four games remaining in the regular season. But championship hopes are alive for all of them.
Field hockey: Fourth-ranked North Carolina (19-5, 3-3 ACC) rebounded from a 4-2 loss to Virginia in the ACC field hockey championship on Nov. 6, winning its first two games in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Final Four for the eighth year in a row. The Tar Heels shut out No. 12 Stanford and No. 2 Maryland in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday by scores of 3-0.
The Tar Heels play No. 6 Connecticut on Friday, and will play the winner of No. 8 Delaware and No. 14 Princeton on Sunday should they advance. UNC is the only ACC team remaining in the tournament after Duke, Maryland and Syracuse — the top three teams in the rankings — lost this past weekend.
UNC won its last national title in 2009.
Men’s soccer: Following an upset to Boston College in the ACC quarterfinals on Nov. 6, No. 10 North Carolina (11-3-3, 5-1-2 ACC) earned the ninth overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels will have a first round bye, then play the winner of South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday.
Women’s basketball: After a pair of blowout exhibition wins, the North Carolina women’s basketball team tipped off its regular-season on Friday with an 84-54 win over Alabama State. Redshirt sophomore Paris Kea scored 22 points in her UNC debut after sitting out a year per NCAA transfer rules. The Vanderbilt transfer helps form an exceptional backcourt for the Tar Heels, teaming up with reigning ACC freshman of the year Stephanie Watts, point guard Jamie Cherry and shooting guard Destinee Walker.
The Tar Heels and head coach Sylvia Hatchell, who received a two-year contract extension in September, were 14-18 a season ago. UNC should be much improved — they had only a six-player rotation for much of last season. Cherry, Kea, Walker and Watts give UNC a backcourt that can be as good as any in the ACC, but the post remains a weakness for UNC.
Redshirt senior Hillary Fuller is the lone returning post player, while freshmen Emily Sullivan and Naomi Van Nes will be counted on behind her. Sullivan scored 12 points and snagged six rebounds coming off the bench against Alabama State.
Women’s soccer: The No. 6 North Carolina women’s soccer team (14-3-4, 6-2-2 ACC) opened the NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 win against Liberty on Nov. 12. The Tar Heels earned a No. 2 seed in the tournament after advancing to the ACC championship game, where they lost to Florida State on penalty kicks on Nov. 6.
The Tar Heels play in the NCAA second round against Kansas on Friday.
Volleyball: Returning home for the first time in four games, the No. 8 North Carolina volleyball team (23-3, 15-1 ACC) won a pair of games against Clemson and Georgia Tech this weekend. During its first match against Clemson, the Tar Heels breezed past the Tigers in three sets. It took more effort against Georgia Tech, as the Yellow Jackets opened up a 2-0 lead before UNC won three straight to take the match.
The Tar Heels have been one of the best blocking teams in the nation all season, which helped power their comeback on Sunday. The team combined for 19 total blocks, with three individual players totaling at least seven. This came without their best blocker, redshirt freshman Sydnye Fields, who hasn’t played since a five-set loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 30.