The Blue Devils were forced to deal with something Saturday night that they hadn't encountered since 2004-a loss in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
When Clemson (15-2, 8-0 in the ACC) narrowly defeated No. 13 Duke (14-4, 9-1) in five games, the Tigers snapped the Blue Devils' 38-game home winning streak as well as their string of 18 straight conference victories.
After dropping the first two games, Duke rebounded in the middle frames before being edged out 15-10 in the final game, which was sealed by a 6-2 Tiger run. The loss not only ended the Blue Devils' run at perfection in Cameron Indoor, but also took away its share of the top spot in the ACC.
"Once the fifth game came up, we made a few too many errors," head coach Jolene Nagel said. "We're incredibly disappointed, but teams get better through adversity and going through a loss. I'd rather have it happen now than later in the season, so we can become better."
Duke was particularly plagued throughout the match by attacking errors, as Clemson committed a mere five through the first three games while forcing Duke into 17 over that same span.
The Tigers were led by junior Danielle Hepburn, who had 19 kills on the night, and senior Meghan Steiner, who notched eight of the team's 14 blocks.
Seniors Carrie DeMange and Jenny Shull led Duke's resurgence in the third game, as the middle blocker threw down eight kills and the libero notched eight digs.
Shull, who was honored before the contest for setting Duke's all-time digs record, recorded a match-high 35 digs on the night.
One of the other problem points for the Blue Devils was their service, as they were less efficient than Clemson on the night, with an average .46 percentage points lower.
"We focus on serving every single day," Nagel said. "Sometimes I think we need to focus on it less. We try so hard that I wonder if we need to let it go more. We didn't get as many aces, but we got less errors."
Duke's battle with the Tigers followed Friday night's 3-2 victory over Georgia Tech (10-7, 4-3).
In that contest, the Blue Devils also faced an early 2-0 deficit but were able to fight back and take the final three games 30-25, 30-22 and 15-12.
DeMange recorded her 10th straight double-double and was one of four Duke players to reach double figures in kills, along with sophomore Rachael Moss and juniors Jourdan Norman and Sue Carls.
The Blue Devils look to rebound from this weekend when they take on Virginia Tech in the third match of their four-game homestand.
"I've seen this team come through with tough obstacles before," Nagel said. "They're an experienced and great team and work incredibly hard. This time they just came up short."
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