After three straight weekends on the road, the Blue Devils can finally settle into the comfort of home.
Duke (9-7, 0-4 in the ACC) looks to protect its undefeated home record this season as it takes on Maryland (10-6, 2-3) and Boston College (8-9, 2-3) Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Blue Devil head coach Jolene Nagel is grateful to be back in Cameron Indoor Stadium after taking on such tough competition on the road the past few weeks.
“We are really thrilled to have the opportunity to be at home,” Nagel said. “We have had a lot of time away from home. We are excited to be back around our fan base that comes to see us and to play in Cameron, which we love.”
Duke, whose starting lineup has changed many times throughout the season, will undoubtedly depend on the staple of its defense—junior Ali McCurdy. The Tampa, Fla. native currently leads the conference in digs, averaging 5.76 per set.
Nagel praised McCurdy’s consistent defensive play, especially her performance against Miami last weekend when she recorded 37 digs in the four-setter with the Hurricanes. The performance was one for the record books—McCurdy’s 37 digs that night tied her for second in the school single-match records. She is the only Blue Devil to ever top 35 digs in a four-set match.
“When we were watching that Miami game last week, she was flying all over the floor and getting to balls,” Nagel said. “She kept us in the match with her digs alone. She is very important to us to be able to transition and score points. She has been huge, and each year she has gotten better…. She was amazing last weekend and I look for that to continue because she is so passionate and driven to succeed.”
On the offensive side of things, Duke will likely look to sophomore Jeme Obeime who currently leads the team in kills with 184 on the season. The sophomore averages 3.12 per set.
Maryland is led by sophomore Ashleigh Crutcher, who has 202 kills on the season, averaging 3.54 per set, and Boston College by freshman Katty Workman, who leads the conference in kills with 4.07 per set. Despite Workman’s numbers, the Eagles sit as one of the bottom two teams in the ACC in terms of kills per set.
While the Terrapins have dropped two of their last three matches, the Eagles have lost three of their last four. Nevertheless, both teams have two wins in conference play.
In order for the young Blue Devils to win their first ACC contest, they will have to find the right combination of players on the court to keep a consistently high level of play. Five of this year’s 14 players are freshmen, and incorporating the new blood into the lineup has kept things interesting. Although the starting lineup has varied from match to match, Nagel feels confident in any player that takes the floor.
“The nice thing about the personnel that we have is that we can do a lot of different things with it and be very confident in those things because of the skill and abilities that we have,” Nagel said. “On any given night, we could make that adjustment if we needed to.”