Duke earned its first victory of the 2022 season Saturday evening against Rider at the doTERRA Classic in Provo, Utah.
The Blue Devils finished 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-16, 25-18) against the Broncos, with senior outside hitter Gracie Johnson leading the team with 22 kills and graduate transfer setter Devon Chang racking up 49 assists throughout the match, just three away from her career high of 52.
With the help of Johnson and Chang, Duke’s offensive efficiency shined against Rider (0-3), with the Blue Devils hitting .357 and .467 in the second and third sets. Their attacks were both high-powered and indicative of the team’s ability to slow down and create smart plays when things got chaotic on the Blue Devils’ side of the court.
Earlier in the weekend, Duke fell to Washington State (2-1) in its season opener Friday, finishing strong in the first set but struggling against the Cougars’ high-powered offense and behind the service line in the next three (26-24, 14-25, 21-25, 20-25).
“We did some good things offensively, but need to pick up our defensive execution,” head coach Jolene Nagel said in a release. “When playing a strong opponent, we have to be thinking one step ahead and making some stops to help our cause.”
Duke (1-2) then played No. 10 BYU (3-0) Friday evening, dropping the match 3-1 (14-25, 19-25, 25-19, 19-25). During the match, racial slurs were directed at sophomore Rachel Richardson, Duke’s only Black starter, by a non-student fan in BYU’s student section. BYU announced Saturday that the individual was banned following Friday's events.
Following the events at the BYU match, Duke’s Saturday match against Rider was moved to an alternate location and was only open to family and staff.
Several parties have since released statements regarding the racist incident, including Duke athletic director Nina King; Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s godmother; BYU athletics and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe; Duke President Vincent Price; and Richardson herself.
“It is neither my nor Duke volleyball’s goal to call BYU’s athletics out but rather to call them up,” Richardson wrote in her statement. “This is not the first time this has happened in college athletics and sadly it likely will not be the last time. However, each time it happens, we as student athletes, coaches, fans, and administrators have a chance to educate those who act in hateful ways.”
Richardson also expressed gratitude towards Duke Athletics, as well as her coaches and teammates, for “immediately dealing with the situation to the best of their ability the minute they were made aware of it.” Several of Duke’s players complained to the referees following the use of the slurs and a police officer was placed by the Duke bench, but the individual who shouted the racist slurs was not removed from the event.
Nagel did not have a media availability Sunday, a team spokesperson told The Chronicle.
Next up for the Blue Devils is the Duke Invitational, which will feature Duke’s home opener against East Tennessee State Friday at 12 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
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Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and a social chair of The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 117.