Coming off a tough loss to Syracuse, the Blue Devils needed a victory against Boston College before heading into back-to-back rivalry games against North Carolina and N.C. State. 

It was a grind at times, but behind a dominant defensive performance and an excellent day from senior Cadie Bates, Duke came away with the win.

The Blue Devils found their rhythm in the second and third sets to dispatch a feisty Boston College squad 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-18) Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke trailed much of the first set due to its eight total errors, but managed to come all the way back buoyed by big plays from Bates and sophomore Samantha Amos. 

“We stayed really calm and confident the entire time,” Bates said. “It was a good effort. Nobody freaked out that we were down a couple points, and I think that was a big difference from our Thursday game when we were down. We just knew that we were going to get it and...we just never let up. But the calmness on the court was really nice and made it easy to come back.”

Duke (11-4, 3-1 in the ACC) dominated up front in the first set, with 21 kills compared to the Eagles' 12, but their errors forced them to play from behind for most of the set. However, with the score tied 21-21, Bates aced the Eagles (3-11, 0-4 in the ACC) on her serve to take the lead. Five plays later, Amos ended the set with a powerful kill off one of senior setter Emma Paradiso's 21 assists.

“We put ourselves in a hole with our unforced errors,” Duke head coach Jolene Nagel said. “There were some service errors, some hitting errors, some reception errors and we knew if we could eliminate those, then we could hang. I think continuing to talk to our team about defense during those huddles was important because I think that’s a strength of our team and we need to do that in order to be successful.”

Duke's defense was impressive all day, as it managed to hold the Eagles to a .173 hitting percentage to go along with six blocks. Bates and defensive specialist Nicole Elattrache paced the team in digs with 13 and 12, respectively, and Amos and senior Anna Kropf led the way in blocks with four apiece. 

In the second set, the Blue Devils played much cleaner volleyball and forced Boston College into eight errors. After trading points early, Kropf spearheaded a 5-0 Duke run, picking up three blocks in quick succession and one of her 10 kills. The Blue Devils never looked back. 

“Our setters did a good job of mixing things up so that we could get the kills we needed,” Nagel said. “[I'm] so proud of our team to be able to pick ourselves up and go after it. Hopefully, we’ve learned from everything, our performance Thursday and our performance today and we can continue getting better as a team.”

The third set mirrored the second with the two teams going back and forth early and Duke's errors allowing the Eagles to stick around. But Bates won back-to-back points off an ace and a kill midway through the set to push the Blue Devil lead to six. Duke later went on another 5-0 run, and Kropf put the icing on the cake with a kill to seal the victory. 

The Eagles' defense played valiantly, improving as the match went on. Junior McKenna Goss and senior Sol Calvete led the attack with eight kills each, but they were no match for Bates and the Blue Devils. The California native led Duke in both digs and kills, finishing with 14 of the latter, while adding a block, two service aces and an assist. 

“We needed this really bad,” Bates said. “It was a good challenge after a loss that we shouldn’t have taken; but to come back hard and win a good game on Sunday is a big deal for us going into two hard weekends.... We really need to work and know that the ACC is tough and anybody can beat anybody. We need to come out strong in every game like we did today.”