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Duke bounces back from weekend losses

With a victory over Wake Forest, the Duke volleyball team ended a two-game conference skid Tuesday after falling to both Clemson and Georgia Tech in a pair of ACC matches over the weekend.

The Blue Devils (14-5, 5-3 in the ACC) took on the Demon Deacons (8-9, 0-7) in Winston-Salem Tuesday night, winning in four games with consistent play from start to finish.

After battling back and forth in the early part of the match, Wake Forest capitalized on two Duke errors to win the opening game, 30-27.

“We were a little flat at first but we played hard,” head coach Jolene Nagel said.

Duke responded by winning the next three games, with power at the net from junior Tiffany Perry and sophomore Tealle Hunkus. Both players tallied 16 kills during the match. Hunkus was strong on defense as well, recording 28 digs to complement senior Tassy Rufai’s 18.

Game two was close initially as the two teams traded points. In the end, the Blue Devils held on for the 30-25 win despite five straight Demon Deacon points down the stretch.

Duke maintained its momentum with the score netted at 1-1. The Blue Devils took the lead early in the third and kept a comfortable cushion between them and Wake Forest. Kills by Rufai and Perry closed out a 30-27 Duke win.

In the final game, a consistent Duke offense opened up a five-point lead and Duke went on to win the game 30-22.

“The stats say a lot,” Nagel said. “The keys tonight were consistency in serving, going after the ball on defense and being aggressive on offense.”

The Blue Devils lost to Clemson (11-7, 3-3 in the ACC) 3-1 in a home contest Friday night. Rufai recorded a season-high 23 kills, and freshman Ali Hausfeld controlled the offense with 60 assists. The Blue Devils took a 28-27 first-game lead but an error and two Tiger kills prevented Duke from securing the game.

“We’ve had them watch a lot of video,” Nagel said of the stellar play of the freshmen. “Nothing can prepare you like being in the moment, however.”

Freshmen Carrie DeMange and Hausfeld were instrumental in the second game, continuing their strong play.

After the game was tied six times, Duke won the third game, overpowered by the Clemson attack. The Tigers then took advantage of additional Blue Devils errors in the fourth game, earning Clemson the match victory.

Duke fell to Georgia Tech (11-5, 6-0 in the ACC) Saturday night 22-30, 21-30, 26-30 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Yellow Jackets dominated Duke, capitalizing on attack and service errors. Rufai and Hunkus notched 10 kills each, and senior Stephanie Istvan anchored the defense with 12 digs.

Lynnette Moster led Georgia Tech in the first game with nine kills. The Blue Devils could only come within four points before the Yellow Jackets won the game. In game two, Georgia Tech took the lead early and held on for the victory.

Duke fought hard in the third game, leveling the score at 18 before more Moster kills and Blue Devil errors resulted in a Yellow Jackets win.

“Every ACC match is huge,” Nagel said. “We forgot how difficult it is to win in the ACC. This was a reminder of the hard work it takes. Georgia Tech will see a much different team next time.”

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