The volleyball team defeated both Virginia and Virginia Tech at Cameron Indoor Stadium this weekend, securing its first undefeated home record since 1993 and gaining sole possession of third place in the conference standings.
Entering their Nov. 19 match against the Cavaliers, the Blue Devils (21-7, 15-5 in the ACC) were tied with Virginia (19-10, 14-6) for third in the conference standings, but had suffered a 3-1 loss to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va. Oct. 7.
Because the ACC eliminated its postseason tournament beginning this year, the regular-season standings will have a greater importance in deciding which teams earn bids to the NCAA Tournament. In the last five years, only once have three teams from the ACC received NCAA Tournament berths.
After failing to take a lead in Game 1 and trailing by as many as six points half-way through Game 2, Duke's perfect home record seemed to be slipping away.
"We weren't playing the way we were capable of in Game 1," head coach Jolene Nagel said. "We missed opportunities that were given to us. We weren't sealing the net on our block. We weren't working together out there as a team. We were disjointed."
With the Blue Devils trailing 21-15 in the second frame, the momentum suddenly shifted in Duke's favor. The front line started to defend the net, and fueled by six straight points during outside hitter Tealle Hunkus' service, Duke went on a 15-5 run to take the game.
"Everyone just looked at each other out there and said, we've got this game," said Hunkus, who posted 13 kills and 26 digs. "This is ours. We're not going to lose."
Duke rode its momentum from the second game into the third, taking that frame with relative ease, 30-17.
But Hunkus' strong performance on the serve would prove critical again at the end of Game 4. The Blue Devils fell behind early, but Hunkus' service capped the comeback, when she extended the Duke lead to five, 28-23.
"After we got Game 2, I started to think we were going to be OK, and then we got down and made too many errors in Game 4," Nagel said. "Tealle's serve really turned it around, and I'd say up until that point in Game 4 it very much could be anybody's. Then she started serving so well and we were able to take advantage of that. That's when we began to gain confidence. It was great to be able to make a run there, and her serve allowed us to do that."
In Duke's first match point, middle blocker Carrie DeMange, who recorded her 21st double-double of the season, blasted the ball over the net to Virginia's left sideline to seal the win. The sophomore finished the match with 18 kills and a career-high 25 digs.
Freshman Jourdan Norman recorded her first career triple-double against the Cavaliers, with 14 kills, 11 digs and a school-record 15 blocks. With her record-setting performance at the net, Norman broke the single-game block mark of 14 set in 1995 and is 10 blocks shy of Duke's single-season record of 164, posted in 1987.
"[Virginia] had really good hitters, so I think it was easier to block because they were all so strong," Norman said.
In addition to their record-setting defensive effort, the Blue Devils' offense had a strong showing. Setter Ali Hausfeld's match-high 62 assists brought her season total to 1,414, the third-highest single-season mark in team history.
On Senior Night Nov. 18, the Blue Devils topped Virginia Tech (11-17, 6-13) in four games, 30-21, 26-30, 30-22, 30-18.
Going into the final two matches of the regular season, Duke has won six straight ACC contests and 11 out of its last 13 matches.
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