A melancholic feeling filled the air as it appeared to be more than a typical regular season volleyball game.
There is no doubt that it was a special afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium as both Duke players and fans alike said farewell to this year’s seniors. The Saturday matinee against No. 2 Pittsburgh marked the last home game of the season and the last the seniors would play at Cameron. The high-powered Panthers showed how they earned their rank, dominating the Blue Devils in three sets (25-16, 25-14, 25-17). Despite the outcome being a bitter way to say goodbye to her home court, senior outside hitter Samantha Amos made the most of her afternoon, on and off the court.
“[The last game in Cameron] was unexplainable. I try to make it as normal as possible so that we can feel that we could just play our normal game out there, but it was definitely special,” said Amos. “It hits you like a rock when you are out there playing.”
In addition to the game already being filled with emotion for Amos, the pregame festivities were highlighted by a heartwarming video from her younger sister, sophomore Alex Amos, expressing how much the younger Amos cherished the memories that volleyball has brought the two of them. Their relationship shed light on the intangible aspects of the game before the competition began.
“Playing with my sister through club, through high school, through college, it is such a special opportunity and an honor, and she means the world to me,” Samantha Amos said. “Being able to be on the same team with her, and see her every day, was such a special thing that not everyone can say that that they have. I am definitely going to miss her.”
On the court, the older Amos put a cherry on top of her individual career at Cameron Indoor, finishing the day with six kills and a team-high three total blocks. Her night was highlighted by a signature southpaw kill that she pulled down the line to give Duke (12-16, 5-2 in the ACC) some life late in the third set. To make the kill a little bit sweeter, it came the point after her younger sister delivered a vicious block against the hitters for Pittsburgh (26-1, 15-0) which had its entire arsenal of offensive weapons firing on all cylinders.
The other two seniors, graduate transfer Lauren Cline and setter Sarah Nelson, added five kills and ten assists, respectively, to cap off their collegiate careers.
“You can tell an immediate smile comes to my face as I think about this senior class. They have been a great crew. They have worked hard. They have been committed. They have gone through some challenges along the way in their class,” said Duke head coach Jolene Nagel. “I am certainly really excited for them to take their next step in their opportunities in this big world.”
Most likely, the Blue Devils will not receive the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament, which will force the seniors to make the most of these last three regular season contests. The Blue Devils will return the majority of their starting lineup next season and outside hitters Gracie Johnson and Ade Awokinaron, as well as middle blocker Lily Cooper, have been bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming season.
Duke has its work cut out for itself this offseason to get on track for postseason play next year. Before then, the team must prepare for its rivalry game against North Carolina Thursday in Chapel Hill at 6:30 p.m.
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