CHAPEL HILL—Revenge lingered in Duke's mind after losing twice to rival North Carolina last year. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, though, they will have to wait until the end of this season for another shot at the Tar Heels.

Duke fell to North Carolina 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-17) at Carmichael Arena Friday evening. Despite the loss, the Blue Devils still played with high-energy defense throughout the match, securing 64 digs—led by 24 and 14 from senior Nicole Elattrache and junior Kelli Kalinoski, respectively. 

Duke’s defense was not enough, however, as the Tar Heels still managed to control most of the game’s tempo. 

“No matter how well we were playing, we would stop our own momentum by having an unforced error,” head coach Jolene Nagel said. “[The errors] just put a halt to anything good we were doing.” 

Nagel’s complaints about her team’s mental focus were not without warrant. The Blue Devils committed 26 errors, nine of them coming in a second set which swung momentum toward the hosts. 

In the set, the Blue Devils came out strong, feeding off of the energy gained from the victorious first set. With freshman Summer Brown controlling the net and redshirt freshman Sarah Nelson’s two aces, Duke maintained a controlling four-to-five point lead for most of the set. 

Leading 21-16—just four points from what would have been a commanding 2-0 advantage for the visitors—a North Carolina comeback seemed almost impossible. However, after a Blue Devil service error, the Tar Heels went on a 6-1 run to tie things up at 22, and eventually won the set 25-23. 

“I think that at the beginning we played very well together, protecting each other and blocking properly,” senior Cadie Bates said. “Later on I think we took some sets off of not covering and not getting behind each other. We also needed to do a little bit better job at passing.” 

As soon as North Carolina won the second set, Duke’s body language shifted altogether. The final two sets of the night did not bode well for the Blue Devils, as the Tar Heel’s hitting percentage jumped from .094 and .073 in the first and second sets, to .485 and .324 in the third and fourth. 

Although the North Carolina crowd made itself heard throughout the match, Nagel said that she did not think the noise was that much of a factor in the way Duke played. 

“I don't really think that [the crowd] was it so much,” Nagel said. “In the third and fourth set in particular, [North Carolina] was serving us pretty deep in the court, and I think we didn’t adjust well enough to be able to do anything offensively against them.” 

Despite failing to come home with victory, the Blue Devils can still take some positives from the match. In the first set, Duke fought back after trailing by as many as three points. And although sophomore starter Natalie Schilling had to be helped off the court due to injury, the Blue Devils did not let her absence their energy. Duke went on a 15-5 run to win the set and gain momentum going into the second set, showing the team’s resilience in unexpected situations. 

“In the first set everyone was competing at a really high level and all of our goals and keys for the games were executed,” Bates said. “It felt like everyone was playing for each other and there weren’t any individuals out there.” 

Bates also stressed the importance of pushing each other harder during practices in order to have more success in actual matches. 

“We decided that every practice we need to have from now on needs to be the best practice that we’ve had,” she added. “We can take more responsibility on getting the most out of every rep in practice.” 

The Blue Devils will have to emulate the energy of Friday's first set come 4 p.m. Sunday to try and defeat N.C. State on the road in another ACC rivalry contest.