Heads tilted upwards as senior Ade Owokoniran took off from the outside, meeting Alex Springate’s set at the perfect height to nail the ball crosscourt.
While Owokoniran’s kill put the Blue Devils on top in the second set to tie the match 1-1, in the end it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Seminoles.
Duke returned to Cameron Indoor Stadium to a crowd decked out in pink for Dig Pink Weekend, an event to support breast cancer awareness. The squad fell to Miami 0-3 (24-26, 15-25, 21-25) Friday and Florida State 1-3 (23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 19-25) Sunday.
The front row was dynamic Sunday afternoon, creating a challenge for Florida State who leads the ACC in average digs. Junior Moorea Wood and Owokoniran led the Blue Devils in kills, tallying an impressive 14 each. Wood more than doubled her season record in kills and bumped her personal career high from 10. Wood has seen the court more often the last four matches and has proven to be a key component of the team’s offense. The right side has also been low error, pulling off an impressive .367 hitting percentage with her 30 total attempts.
The Blue Devil defense matched its offense.
“I saw some very positive things tonight defensively, which is so encouraging,” head coach Jolene Nagel said.
After a hard fought loss to Florida State in the first set, Duke (11-6, 2-4 in the ACC) came out for the second ready for another battle. While the score was tied eight times throughout the set, the Blue Devils held onto the momentum, their energy unmatched by the Seminoles. When fed sets by senior Alex Springate, Duke’s hitters were too strong for their competitors, hitting .406 compared to Florida State’s .297 and pulling off the second set 25-19.
Though the outcome of the match was not ideal, the Blue Devils made the Seminoles work for the win Sunday afternoon.
The score was tied throughout almost the entire first set, neither team willing to let the other get ahead without a challenge. Plays were long due to both teams’ persistent defense, with Florida State (11-4, 4-2) accumulating 78 digs throughout the match and Duke following with 75. At 23-23, Florida State’s Emma Clothier got the lead for the Seminoles and forced Duke into a timeout with a powerful kill from the middle. The first set slipped away from the Blue Devils with an attack error by Owokoniran out of the timeout.
While there is no doubt the Blue Devils were tired during the third and fourth sets, they continued to give it their all on the court. Florida State was forced to strengthen its block after three straight kills by Wood tightened the score to 6-11. Duke’s attacking errors got the best of it in the third set, numbering five to Florida State’s zero. Poor ball control on Duke’s side of the net allowed the Seminoles to lead throughout the fourth set, eventually ending the four-set match with a kill by Florida State’s leading hitter Khori Louis.
Friday the squad lost to Miami (14-2, 5-1) in straight sets due to the Hurricanes’ aggressive blocking that resulted in an astounding 12 blocks. Owokoniran led Duke in the front row, tallying 15 kills and a .367 hitting percentage while graduate student Payton Schwantz led in the back row with 11 digs.
There’s no questioning the difficulty of the ACC, which the Blue Devils have been navigating with little rest the past two weeks.
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“Now there's really not a day off or anything so that's a challenge and we have to be our best every single time we come out, which it's hard, we're all human, so, we've certainly got to keep striving for that,” Nagel said.
The team will travel this weekend to take on Clemson and Georgia Tech for a pair of ACC matches.