Coaches always stress the old adage “practice, practice, practice.” In the case of the women’s volleyball team it has been “competition, competition, competition” over the past two weeks.
Duke (5-2) is preparing to face Elon (3-4) at 7 p.m. tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The team is in the middle of a stretch when it plays seven games in eight days.
“With Elon, it’s a chance for us to play some in-state competition,” said head coach Jolene Nagel, who is one win away from her 300th as a college coach. “[It] just makes you better sometimes more so than practice because it’s just that different setting that you’re in. So we want to get as much of that under our belts as we can.”
The Blue Devils are coming off an impressive weekend when they swept three games in the Duke Invitational with 3-0 victories over South Carolina, Towson and Northern Illinois. The team appears to be gaining momentum as it has won 15 consecutive games after losing its first two matches of the season to Loyola Marymount and Tennessee. Both losses came against teams ranked in the top 25.
“It was a great building tournament because we did get better with each match. It’s just going to give us a lot more confidence going into the game against Elon,” said senior Stephanie Istvan, who earned all-tournament honors at the Duke Invitational. “Hopefully we’ll enter ACC play playing our best.”
Coming off impressive tournament performances over the weekend, freshmen Carrie DeMange and Ali Hausfeld will be two of the players to watch tonight. The two were first team All-State at Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton, Ohio where they won back-to-back state championships. Against Northern Illinois Sunday, Hausfeld notched 50 assists and eight digs, while DeMange tallied 23 kills. DeMange was also named tournament MVP.
“It would be amazing if I could do that again, but I’m just going to keep hitting the ball as hard as I can,” DeMange said.
The Phoenix come to Durham hungry for a victory. They are in the midst of a four game losing streak, and the most heartbreaking loss (3-2) came to Louisiana-Monroe to close out an unsuccessful Georgia Outback Invitational.
“We want to make sure we’re getting up where we need to be mentally each time,” said Nagel, whose team plays its fourth game in as many days tonight. “That’s going to help us going into our ACC season as well, so we don’t let an opportunity pass us by.”
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