Duke volleyball swept in pair of matches in opening weekend of ACC play

<p>Freshman Ade Owokoniran notched 10 kills against Florida State Friday.</p>

Freshman Ade Owokoniran notched 10 kills against Florida State Friday.

Coming off a two-week break following Hurricane Florence, the Blue Devils traveled to Florida to jump into conference play this weekend.

Although Duke had begun to build its momentum over the past seven nonconference games, the Blue Devils faced staunch competition in their away matches against the Seminoles and Hurricanes.

Duke fell in its ACC opener against Florida State Friday evening in a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-22, 25-19) at Tully Gym in Tallahassee, Fla., and was unable to get back in the win column Sunday, falling to Miami 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23) at the Knight Complex in Coral Gables, Fla.

“We are going to learn a lot from this weekend because these are two of the strongest teams in the league,” head coach Jolene Nagel said. “We played them on the road, we are young, and this is a committed team, and they want to get better.”

Duke’s first game against the Seminoles (5-6, 1-0 in the ACC) began tightly contested, but multiple unforced errors by the Blue Devils allowed the Seminoles to surge ahead 20-16. Although Duke made a run to bring it within one, Florida State took care of business. During the next two sets, the Blue Devils continued to make uncharacteristic mistakes that would cost them the match. The Seminoles carried their momentum over, taking an lead early in the second set, and although Duke kept it close, Florida State once again sealed the deal. 

In the third set, the Blue Devils gave up a six-point lead early on, which Duke would never recover from.

“We were not in the best rhythm as we got on the floor to compete on Friday night,” Nagel said. “We did some very good things; it was not awful, but we were just coming up a little short with plays that I have seen us make all the time this season.”

Payton Schwantz led the Blue Devils (6-5, 0-2), hitting an outstanding .448 and recording her third double-double of the season with 10 digs and a match-high 15 kills. Ade Owokoniran added 10 kills herself, but the Seminoles totaled seven blocks compared to the Blue Devils’ one, which—in addition to Duke’s unforced errors—led Florida State to a hitting percentage of .438 for the game. On the other side of the court, Christina Ambrose and Payton Caffrey led the Seminoles with 14 and 13 kills, respectively, while both hitting above .320.

The Blue Devils’ match against Miami (6-3, 2-0) was back-and-forth from the opening serve and remained that way, with all four sets coming down to the final point. Duke led 23-22 in the first before the Hurricanes made a 3-0 run to take the set. The Blue Devils surged out to take the lead in the second 9-4 and would hang on for its first set win of the weekend. Miami would take the third set which had a total of 10 ties and five lead changes and eventually edged Duke in the fourth set, as the Blue Devils surrendered a six-point lead.

Schwantz recorded another double-double—her fourth overall—recording 14 kills and 13 digs. Leah Meyer and Owokoniran also tallied double-digit kills with 12 and 11, respectively. Freshman Lily Cooper also had a solid showing with seven kills and five blocks. Kolby Bird, Elizaveta Lukianova and Chloe Brown combined for 43 of Miami’s 51 kills to lead the Hurricanes to victory.

“I think they are going to know now what is upcoming,” Nagel said. “When you play strong opponents, any little thing that you are undisciplined with or not strong at becomes obvious. We are a work in progress right now.”

The Blue Devils will return to action Friday, Sept. 28, when they host Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


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