Duke started off its ACC regular season play on the wrong foot, losing to in-state rivals North Carolina and N.C. State.
The Blue Devils fell 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 18-25, 14-25) to the Wolfpack Friday and then lost in five sets (25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 22-25, 7-15) to the Tar Heels Sunday. Duke (9-5) dropped the first and second sets against the Wolfpack (13-1), posting eight and seven errors, respectively. The Blue Devils came out in the third and cleaned up their offensive play to take the set, but N.C. State posted a .448 hitting percentage in the fourth to easily finish off the match.
“[N.C. State] had a great atmosphere tonight, but I’m disappointed in how we competed,” Duke head coach Jolene Nagel told GoDuke.com. “We needed to execute better, both on our serve and on defense. We just made too many errors and that limited our ability to get any momentum going.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jeme Obeime paced the Blue Devils with 17 kills and .324 hitting percentage. Freshmen outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell added 10 kills, while senior middle blocker Christiana Gray posted seven kills and six blocks. Sophomore setter Maggie Deichmeister facilitated the offense well, tallying 34 assists.
After posting a .310 hitting percentage to take the first set from North Carolina (11-2) Sunday, Duke dropped the next two due to sloppy ball handling and poor offensive execution. The Blue Devils rebounded in the fourth and took advantage of 10 Tar Heel errors to win the set, but North Carolina won the first three points of the fifth and final set and closed out the match with ease.
“I think our team did a good job of handling the many different hitters [North Carolina] had in there today and of adjusting to them throughout the match,” Nagel said. “We broke down a little bit at points, but I was proud of the way our team kept their focus, came back around and started to execute. We have a lot we will continue to work on to get better, but, for where we are right now, I thought our team did some really good things today.”
Obeime once again led the way for the Blue Devils offensively, posting 17 kills. Gray added 13 kills on a .393 hitting percentage and freshman setter Christina Vucich registered nine kills and racked up 45 assists. Duke’s 14 team blocks, including eight by junior middle blocker Chelsea Cook, mark the team’s highest total of the season.
Freshmen outside hitter Emily Sklar sat out the weekend’s games with a leg injury. Sklar is second on the team in both kills and digs, with 144 and 102 respectively.