The Blue Devils exhibited resilience throughout the weekend in their two matches.
They took on Notre Dame Friday and won 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-10) and faced off against No. 2 Louisville Sunday, falling 3-1 (15-25, 21-25, 25-23, 16-25) in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Leading the offensive with 23 kills, Ade Owokoniran passed the 1,000-kill threshold in the match against Notre Dame, making her the 27th player in program history to do so.
“It is really wonderful for [Owokoniran] to hit that accomplishment. She has been a big important part of our team since her arrival as a freshman, despite having to work through some different injuries and obstacles along the way,” head coach Jolene Nagel. “It is really exciting for her to attain that milestone, and it is great for our team too.”
The offense boasted lethal consistency with Owokoniran and Fleming finishing the match with 0.385 and 0.522 hitting percentages, respectively. Freshman Rachel Richardson followed close behind the offensive leaders with nine kills, but her hitting percentage suffered from seven errors over the course of the match.
Captain Mackenzie Cole’s back-to-back aces in the fifth set effectively shut down the Notre Dame offense, with the Blue Devil defense keeping the Fighting Irish at a hitting percentage below 0.200 for four of the five sets. Cole tied her career-high 29 digs, while Richardson contributed 10.
“Mackenzie Cole had a tremendous weekend with 50 digs between the two matches in addition to her serve receive performance,” Nagel said.
Duke (13-10, 4-8 in the ACC) took on undefeated Louisville (21-0, 11-0) in Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday, where the Cardinals dominated in the first set. Despite coming out strong in the second set, the Blue Devils fell 21-25 before taking an exciting third set 25-23.
The Blue Devils fought hard to keep momentum, resulting in 13 kills and a hitting percentage of 0.256 in that third set. Caught off guard by the sustained intensity of Duke’s offense, the Cardinals got sloppy, making seven attack errors and three service errors. Duke managed to match Louisville in hitting attempts with 39 and 41 respectively, but composure and consistency were on the Blue Devils side in this set.
Louisville won the fourth set 25-16 to win the match. The Cardinals shut down the Blue Devil offense, resulting in a Duke hitting percentage of 0.095 for the set. The Blue Devils exhibited the same perseverance they showed Notre Dame (9-12, 6-5) two days before, but Louisville rebounded quickly in the fourth set to prevent Duke from maintaining momentum for too long. Duke started aggressively in each of the first three sets, racking up points quickly, but it proved to be an unsustainable effort against the well-rounded and disciplined Cardinals.
Louisville’s four offensive leaders all had double-digit kills, but for Duke, only Lizzie Fleming had 10 kills. With 20 total attempts, she had an impressive 0.500 hitting percentage for the match. Camille Nazor set a career-high record of 40 assists against Notre Dame, which she followed up with 31 assists against Louisville. In addition, Nazor had three kills and a hitting percentage of 0.286. Championing the defense once again, Mackenzie Cole had 20 digs against Louisville.
“The game against Louisville was a great team effort,” Nagel said. “We got to see our team play at a very high level. This game will motivate us to play at that level all the time, especially since we are coming upon a stretch in our season that can still be very important for us.”
Looking to the week ahead, Duke hosts Wake Forest Friday and Virginia Tech Sunday.
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