RALEIGH, N.C. --- No. 1 North Carolina overcame an outstanding effort from No. 40 NC State to defeat the rival Wolfpack, 4-3, Thursday afternoon at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center. Carolina won a tight doubles point and got singles victories from Lauren McHale, Caroline Price and Whitney Kay to improve to 15-1 and 2-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. NC State fell to 10-2 on the year and 1-1 in the ACC.
Carolina won another tight doubles point to get the early lead against NC State. The teams split matches on courts two and three before the Tar Heels took the rubber match on court one to secure the point. Zoe De Bruycker and Ashley Dai were first to finish on court two, winning 8-4 before NC State won 8-5 on court three. Caroline Price and Whitney Kay then topped Joelle Kissell and Tatiana Illova on court one, 8-5, to grab the day's first point.
"I was really proud of our effort all day," head coach Brian Kalbas said after the match. "We played really well in a tough environment against an NC State team that was playing at the top of its game."
Lauren McHale got a critical second point for the Tar Heels to open singles play, winning 6-3, 6-2 on court four against Nicole Martinez.
"Lauren came up big for us today," Kalbas said. "For her to step up and get us that early win in singles I think was really important."
NC State got in the board next as No. 63 Kissell topped No. 4 Gina Suarez-Malaguti in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, on court one.
With only four courts available at the indoor facility, No. 30 Price was late to start at No. 5 singles. But the sophomore wasted no time in dismissing Chloe Smith, 6-0, 6-1, to give the Tar Heels a 3-1 lead.
"For Caroline to come on and immediately get that first set 6-0 was a real momentum boost," Kalbas said.
While Price was dominating at the No. 5 position, No. 36 De Bruycker was rallying to force a third set on court two against Illova. That would prove important for the Tar Heels and Kay, who was in a battle of her own on court three against Rachael James-Baker. While De Bruycker ultimately fell in three sets, Kay was able to overcome a loss in the second-set tiebreak to win in three, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3, to clinch the match.
Elisha Hande got the final point of the day, defeating No. 123 Dai in a third-set tiebreak, 6-2, 1-6, 1-0 (10).
Carolina will have little time to rest before heading to Evanston, Ill., Friday afternoon before facing No. 11 Northwestern Sunday at 11 a.m.
No. 1 North Carolina 4, No. 40 NC State 3
1. Whitney Kay/Caroline Price (UNC) def. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) 8-5
2. Ashley Dai/Zoe De Bruycker (UNC) def. Elisha Hande/Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 8-4
3. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) def. Gina Suarez-Malaguti/Lauren McHale (UNC) 8-5
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1
1. #63 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) def. #4 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) 6-3, 6-2
2. Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. #36 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
3. #23 Whitney Kay (UNC) def. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3
4. Lauren McHale (UNC) def. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 6-3, 6-2
5. #30 Caroline Price (UNC) def. Chloe Smith (NCSU) 6-0, 6-1
6. Elisha Hande (NCSU) def. #123 Ashley Dai (UNC) 6-2, 1-6, 1-0 (10)
Order of finish: 4, 1, 5, 3*, 2, 6