American upsets Duke volleyball to end NCAA tournament run
No. 14 Duke saw its season come to an abrupt end, falling in straight sets to American Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was the second consecutive straight-set victory for the underdogs from the Patriot League after knocking off Georgia Friday night.
"This team has had an incredible year,” Duke head coach Jolene Nagel said. "I know that we’re all extremely disappointed that we didn't play our absolute best tonight, but American University played great defense. They did an excellent job controlling the ball, getting the ball to their hitters that they wanted."
A trio of Eagle attackers led the way for American (34-2). Junior Kristyna Lindovska tallied 13 kills, senior Juliana Crum added 11 kills to go with 21 digs and junior Kelly McCaddin had 10. McCaddin, who is 6-foot-6, also had seven blocks, helping to neutralize the Duke offensive attack.
The Blue Devils were held to a .110 hitting percentage, well below their season average of .246. Sophomore Emily Sklar and junior Jeme Obeime each recorded 11 kills to lead Duke—Sklar also picked up 13 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. Elizabeth Campbell added nine kills for Duke (28-5).
American led the first set from start to finish, overcoming a late Duke rally to win, 25-23. The Blue Devils had to rally again in the second set, going up 21-18 before the Eagles responded with a run of their own, tying the score at 23-23 and going on to win, 26-24.
"Both the first two sets were very tight, and I think we made too many errors," Nagel said. "We had moments where we were flowing and communicating and controlling the ball like we’d like to, but then we’d have some stints there that we needed to get a side out a little bit sooner in order to get back some momentum on our side.”
Down two sets to none, Duke came out strong in the third set but were unable to make it hold up. The Blue Devils started the set on a 9-2 run, but a dominant 15-1 response from American gave the Eagles a commanding 17-10 lead. Although Duke would make a dent in that advantage, it could not register enough stops to ground the Eagle attack, and American finished out the third set, 25-22.
Duke will return the bulk of its roster next year but will lose its two captains—middle blocker Chelsea Cook and libero Ali McCurdy—to graduation. McCurdy, the ACC's all-time leader in digs, picked up 24 more Saturday, pushing her final career mark to 2,538.