There was no sign of a tryptophan-induced slump for Duke in its post-Thanksgiving contest Friday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
On Senior Day, the Blue Devils battled through numerous tie scores and lead changes to a five-set win against Miami. Graduate transfer Andie Shelton starred yet again for the Blue Devils, recording her sixth triple-double of the season with 17 kills, 26 assists, 11 digs and six blocks.
“I was just getting some really great sets and the defense—we were working on a defense so that we were able to dig a lot more balls from the right side—and it just worked out,” Shelton said.
Duke took the first set 27-25, sending the boisterous crowd, which included the Blue Devil football team, into a loud roar. Junior Samantha Amos’ kill clinched the set for Duke.
Senior Jessi Bartholomew’s kill to open the second set kickstarted an early Blue Devil run. Miami chipped back and eventually took the lead 22-21. Redshirt junior Leah Meyer slammed home a kill to tie it up at 22 and Duke surged late in the set, securing it 26-24.
“They have a great serve and some great hitters and they just kept coming at us," head coach Jolene Nagel said. "It was a battle out there for both teams today. Really grateful our team hung tough."
Refusing to let the Blue Devils (16-11, 10-8 in the ACC) take the victory without a fight, Miami (13-12, 9-9) came out to a 6-4 lead in the third set. After 15 tie scores and 10 lead changes, Miami went on to snag the third frame 29-27.
Duke faltered in the fourth set, dropping it to Miami 25-22 despite a five-point Blue Devil lead at 17-12. Duke regrouped before the fifth set.
“We definitely wanted to make sure that we were going to have our offense going as we got started," Nagel said. "The team talks about taking care of business. I think that was the mentality as they went out there for that fifth set in order to be efficient with our serve and our passing in order to take care of business out there.”
In a thrilling fifth set, Duke certainly took care of business. Duke and Miami traded points before Meyer slammed down her final kill of the night. Meyer recorded another awe-inducing performance that featured 15 kills—for a .583 hitting percentage—five digs and nine blocks. The crowd erupted as the Blue Devils knocked off Miami in their final regular-season contest of the season.
“It was joy, pure joy. Everyone was just so happy to get the win in such a great way, on such a great team," Shelton said. "Miami is a really good team to beat. I mean, I started crying.”
Shelton wasn’t the only player to step up for Duke Friday. Freshman libero Mackenzie Cole recorded a team-high 18 digs and sophomore Payton Schwantz had an impressive game with 18 kills and 17 digs.
“It was just balls to the walls. We went all out. We did it for the seniors," Schwantz said. "It was a fun game that we could do it together."
The Blue Devils end the regular season full circle, avenging their loss to Miami in their season opener.
“They are a tremendous group. They’ve been committed. They’ve been disciplined. They’ve worked really hard,” Nagel said.
Duke must wait for the NCAA selection show Sunday to learn whether it makes the NCAA tournament.
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