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UNC Fall Sports Preview: Field Hockey & Volleyball

Two teams looking to build off of last year, while one calls a strange place home.

FloSports: FloVolleyball NCAA National Championship Match Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we showcased two teams that also begin their seasons in the fall, one of whom started with a win. Two more teams will be kicking off their season for the fall, both coming off NCAA Tournament runs and looking to return to those lofty heights.

Field Hockey

Karen Shelton is one of the best coaches at Carolina you probably don’t know off the top of your head. She’s right behind Dorrance in longevity at Carolina, about to enter her 37th season leading the Field Hockey team in Chapel Hill.

To say she’s been successful doesn’t do her justice: Six NCAA titles, the most recent in 2009, 11 NCAA Runner-ups including last year, and in nine of the past ten years, the team has made it to the NCAA Final Four. Last year in Rio, Carolina had five players who made the US team. If you aren’t paying attention to this team, you’re missing greatness.

The 2017 season has a chance to be title number seven as the field hockey team starts no. 1 going into the year. This year’s team is led by Juniors Ashley Hoffman and Eva van’t Hoog, both named to the Preseason All-ACC team. Hoffman was named to the US Under 21 team, and also represented the US for the Pan-Am cup this summer, the only active UNC player to do so. The scary part of this roster? They only have one Senior, meaning Coach Shelton has this team set up for success this year and beyond.

One big obstacle they will have to overcome is the lack of a home field. UNC used to play their home games over at Henry Stadium, aka the turf side of Navy Field. Navy Field...isn’t quite playable right now as it is being razed to make room for the new Football practice facility and Soccer stadium. The team got together in April to say goodbye, and await their new home at Eringhaus Field.

In the meantime, the Tar Heels needed a solution. You need to have a specific type of field to play field hockey, and the only place close enough was eight miles away. In Durham.

That’s right, home field for the 2017 season will be on the Duke University campus. Coach Shelton has done pre-season camps in Norfolk, Virginia and over in Charlotte, but for this year, home games are in Durham. Not a small thing considering the Blue Devils are 2nd in the preseason.

The ACC fields a total of seven teams, and all of them are ranked in the top 15 going into the season. The chances that Carolina will run into at least one of them again in the NCAA’s are high, and the ACC Tournament has a chance to be a Final Four preview. Should be a great season.

Field Hockey Schedule:

8/26- vs Michigan, Iowa City, IA-ACC/Big 10 Challenge

8/27-vs. Iowa, Iowa City, IA-ACC/Big 10 Challenge

9/1-@Princeton, Princeton, NJ

9/3-@Penn, Philadelphia, PA

9/8-@Wake Forrest, Winston-Salem, NC, ACC game

9/10-@Appalachian State, Boone, NC

9/16-vs. Boston College, Durham, NC (home game), ACC game

9/17-vs James Madison, Durham, NC (home game)

9/19-vs. Davidson, Durham, NC (home game)

9/23-@Syracuse, Syracuse, NY, ACC game

9/24-@Albany, Albany, NY

10/1-vs. Old Dominion, Durham, NC (home game)

10/6-@UVa, Charlottesville, VA, ACC game

10/14-vs Louisville, Durham, NC (home game), ACC game

10/15-@VCU, Richmond, VA

10/20-vs Duke, Durham, NC (yes...UNC is the “home” team), ACC game

10/29-@Liberty, Lynchburg, VA

11/2-11/5-ACC Tournament, Louisville, KY

11/11-11/19-NCAA Tournament, Final Four/Championships Louisville, KY

Volleyball

Volleyball is the one fall sport that has been a little slower to be the consistent contender than the others, but they have stability in the coach’s chair. Joe Sagula helms the Volleyball Heels for his 28th season, and they are coming off one of their best years ever.

In 2016, they rose as high as six in the rankings during the year, beat three top 10 teams, went 19-1 in the ACC, won the ACC Championship, and got to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA’s. They have also made the tournament every year since 2010. Volleyball is one of the only sports that doesn’t use a tournament to determine its conference champion, so that title was earned.

The team comes into 2017 ranked 11th, the highest ranked ACC team. FSU is the only other one to appear at 15. UNC returns some talent: Holly Carlton and Julia Scoles, 2016 ACC Freshman of the year, got the opportunity over the summer to play with USA Volleyball. Carlton ended up playing with the US Team in the Under 21 team. Scoles is joined by 2016 ACC POY Taylor Leath and 2016 2nd team All-ACC Selection Taylor Fricano on the 2017 Preseason All-ACC team.

UNC’s site does a good job of detailing each player on the team here for the hitters and here for the defense. The team also has one advantage over the other fall sports teams: they actually have their home court, Carmichael Arena. However they do trade on October 13th. Before Late Night With Roy, the Volleyball team takes the court at the Dean Smith Center. Fitting for another Championship Team.

Volleyball Schedule:

8/25-vs. Minnesota, Madison, WI-ACC/Big 10 Challenge

8/26-vs. Wisconsin, Madison, WI-ACC/Big 10 Challenge

9/2-vs. Auburn, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, ACC/SEC Puerto Rico Classic

9/3-vs. Florida, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, ACC/SEC Puerto Rico Classic

9/8-vs. LIU, Chapel Hill, NC, Carolina Classic

9/10-vs. LSU, Chapel Hill, NC, Carolina Classic

9/15-vs. Loyola Marymount, Chapel Hill, NC

9/16-vs. Coastal Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

9/22-@NC State, Raleigh, NC, ACC Game

9/24-vs. Louisville, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

9/29-@Clemson, Clemson, SC, ACC Game

10/1-@Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, ACC Game

10/6-vs. Duke, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

10/8-vs. Wake Forrest, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

10/13-vs. Virginia Tech, Chapel Hill (Dean Smith Center), ACC Game

10/14-vs. UVa, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

10/18-vs. NC State, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

10/20-@Pitt, Pittsburgh, PA, ACC Game

10/27-@FSU, Tallahassee, FL, ACC Game

10/29-@Miami, Coral Gables, FL, ACC Game

11/3-vs. Boston College, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

11/5-vs. Syracuse, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

11/9-vs. Georgia Tech, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

11/11-vs. Clemson, Chapel Hill, NC, ACC Game

11/17-@Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, ACC Game

11/19-@Louisville, Louisville, KY, ACC Game

11/22-@Wake Forrest, Winston-Salem, NC, ACC Game

11/25-@Duke, Durham, NC, ACC Game

12/3-12/16-NCAA Championships, Final Four in Kansas City, MO