After a slow start, the Blue Devils raised their level of play but could not put together a comeback against the Seminoles.
Duke (14-14, 5-11 in the ACC) fell to No. 13 Florida St. (22-3, 13-2) for the second time this season, losing in straight sets Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It was real difficult there at the beginning with us not connecting and [not] being able to get our offense going at all,” head coach Jolene Nagel said.
Due partly to communication errors, the Blue Devils fell behind 4-10 right off the bat, forcing Nagel to take an early timeout.
Duke regrouped to win three of the next four points, and was kept in the match by freshman Elizabeth Campbell, who recorded a set-high six kills on a .385 hitting percentage.
“[Campbell’s] doing great,” Nagel said. “We knew that it was one area that we wanted to go to tonight against them to use our middles and to use our right side, and it was obviously working when we had a chance to do that, so she obviously did a great job of executing that.”
But the Seminoles soon pulled ahead again. Ultimately dropping the set 25-16, the Blue Devils were hampered by three service errors and four attack errors.
“We were just making a lot of errors, probably just serving,” Campbell said. “And… we weren’t passing that well in the first set, but I think we picked it up after that.”
Duke certainly kept the next two sets much tighter. In the second set, the Blue Devils kept pace with the Seminoles, largely due to the latter’s paltry .040 hitting percentage and Duke junior Ali McCurdy’s team-high seven digs in the set.
The Blue Devils even held a 20-18 lead at one point despite registering just a .100 hitting percentage of their own.
“Our passing definitely got better,” Campbell said. “And our serving got tougher so it kept putting them out of system.”
Duke’s efforts came up short again, however, as it lost the set 26-24.
In the third set Duke fell behind early again, dropping five of the first six points as Florida State took control of play around the net. Seniors Fatma Yildrim and Marija Milosavljevic and junior Ashley Neff combined for eight kills in the set and 24 kills in the match.
“The difference with them is they have those three hitters up there all the time which is really great,” Nagel said. “So it’s a little bit harder to be able to know where to block because they’ve just got three hitters ready to go.”
Behind several kills of their own—including four from sophomore Jeme Obeime—the Blue Devils managed to build a lead of its own with as much as a four-point advantage late in the set.
After calling a timeout leading just 20-18, Duke won the next two points. The Blue Devils could not hold on, however, dropping five consecutive points to conclude the set.
“Our errors made the difference,” Nagel said. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole…. Until we can really get rid of those [errors] a little bit more, it’s going to be difficult to dig ourselves out of it every time.”
The Blue Devils will look to rebound against Miami Saturday in their final home game of the season. Miami is currently ranked second in the ACC. Saturday marks senior night for the squad, and will honor seniors Nailah Waterfield, Christiana Gray and Megan Hendrickson.