Duke looks for Senior Night spark

Duke’s seniors will suit up to play for one last time in Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight. With ACC Tournament seeding on the line, the volleyball team faces Wake Forest in its final home match of the at 7 p.m.

Stephanie Istvan, Erin Noble and Tassy Rufai will be honored in a ceremony before the game as the team attempts to cement its position in the upper echelon of the ACC.

After the formalities, the Blue Devils (17-9, 8-6 in the ACC) will have to bear down against up-and-coming Wake Forest (11-14, 3-11), which struggled with some injuries early in the season but is at full strength now.

With only two conference matches remaining, Duke currently sits alone in fourth place, just one game ahead of a pack of four teams at 7-7.

“There’s just so much up in the air,” head coach Jolene Nagel said. “These next two matches are big for figuring that out. You can’t predict what is going to happen. We just need to worry about what we can control.”

The Blue Devils will be buoyed by the momentum coming off Saturday’s road win at Clemson. They may face a potential trap, however, against a Demon Deacon squad that gave Duke a scare earlier in the season before eventually falling to the Blue Devils in four games.

Wake Forest won the first game before a well-balanced Duke attack, led by junior Tiffany Perry and sophomore Tealle Hunkus, rallied to take three straight games.

Duke knows that Wake is better than its ACC record would indicate, and Nagel said that the team can not afford to be distracted by the events of Senior Night.

“If you don’t come out ready to play in this league, you can really fall behind,” she said.

That the younger players on the team and planning a pregame reception and there will be a public recognition of both the players and their families before tipoff.

“It’s hard to put into words what those three have meant to the program,” Nagel said. “We want to make it a special night for them—they’ve put so much work into the program. All of them are great team players, and have shown that throughout their careers.”

Istvan came to Duke as a setter, but moved to libero because the team needed more ball control. She is currently leading the team and the ACC in total digs and digs per match.

Noble struggled through injuries early on in her career but has become a formidable front-line presence this year on the attack and block.

Rufai walked onto the team her sophomore year and has lettered in her final three years. She could have graduated last year, but decided to stick around one final semester and finish out her eligibility, Nagel said.

“All three have given of themselves to better this program and have been a joy to have,” Nagel said.


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