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Blue Devils block pair of ACC foes

Duke’s pair of freshman standouts have played together since the third grade and could be a dangerous twosome for many years to come. The combination of Ali Hausfeld setting to Carrie DeMange led the Blue Devils (11-3, 2-1 in the ACC) to victory over the Virginia Cavaliers (11-3, 1-1) Sunday. The two freshmen sparked a 8-1 run that turned around the momentum of the fourth game and allowed Duke to come away with a 3-1 win.

This ACC victory was the second of the weekend for the Blue Devils, who also beat Maryland Friday 3-1.

Duke opened the match against Virginia by winning two closely contested games. The Cavaliers then dominated the third game and were outplaying the Blue Devils in the fourth before an 8-1 Duke run. Down 13-9 and with all the momentum in Virginia’s favor, the Blue Devils’ employed solid blocking and serving along with offensive power from Hausfeld and DeMange to stop the Cavaliers’ spurt and secure an important conference victory.

“Carrie and Ali have been playing together a very long time,” coach Jolene Nagel said. “I think it is a hard combination for opponents to stop because they know each other so well.”

The Blue Devils were sluggish at the start, falling behind 10-3 in the first game. Duke came back, however, and tied the game at 17. From there, neither team built a secure lead in a back-and-forth game. Duke took control late when sophomore Tealle Hunkus hit two straight cross-court kills and senior Karen Noble combined with DeMange for a powerful block that led to a 30-27 victory.

Duke then gained a 2-0 advantage after holding off a late run by the Cavaliers to win the second game 32-30.

“The first two games we just kept our intensity up the whole way through,” senior Stephanie Istvan said. “We served tough and played great defense, and we always put them on the defensive.”

DeMange led the team with 26 kills and five blocks, while Hunkus and junior Tiffany Perry also contributed with 18 and 11 kills, respectively. Hunkus and Istvan controlled the defense, each with 25 digs, and Hausfeld directed the offense with 63 sets.

“It was really a team effort,” Nagel said. “So many people contributed. Ali made some great decisions as a setter. She’s a freshman, but she certainly doesn’t play like a freshman.”

Duke could not finish off Virginia in the third game, as the Cavaliers came back strong. The Blue Devils did not look nearly as crisp as they had in the first two games and dropped the third game 30-23. Duke came back and finished off the Cavaliers in the fourth game 30-24.

“We relaxed a little bit [in the third game],” Nagel said. “We almost did it in game four, too. Early in that game, I think we got ourselves down a little bit before we were able to come back strong.”

Duke also defeated Maryland, the defending ACC champions, 26-30, 30-26, 30-20, 30-27 this weekend. After dropping the first game to the Terrapins (5-6, 0-1), the Blue Devils won three straight games, the last two in convincing fashion as they led the majority of both games.

Duke used a deep offensive attack to defeat Maryland, as four players recorded double-digit kills. The Blue Devils also set a season high for team blocks.

“Getting these two wins was very important for us for the conference standings,” Nagel said. “The conference is very tough.”

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