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Duke volleyball completes week with shutout of Santa Clara, extends winning run to 9 games

Graduate student Jess Robinson rises for the kill against Santa Clara.
Graduate student Jess Robinson rises for the kill against Santa Clara.

Everything seems to be working for Duke currently. After winning nine games in a row and their first win against a ranked team since 2019, the Blue Devils have not slowed down, and finished the week unbeaten.

In a late Saturday night matchup, Duke wasted no time. In a scrappy, high-paced game, the Blue Devils blew past Santa Clara 3-0. This was Duke’s third straight-set win of the week as it defeated N.C. Central Wednesday and Coastal Carolina Friday. 

After its two midweek wins, the momentum certainly was with the Blue Devils as they came into the late Saturday matchup with the Broncos. 

“It’s been a busy week with a lot of competition, so it's hard to adjust. When you’re playing that much you don’t have much practice time, but I was excited,” said head coach Jolene Nagel after Saturday’s match. “I thought our team did a good job this week. They came out to play each time and they took care of business.” 

With the set of shutouts this week, the Blue Devils (9-2) haven’t dropped a set since Sept. 9 against Michigan, when they won 3-1. 

Even though the Blue Devils defeated Santa Clara, the sets were close and neither team was able to establish a strong lead until the third set. Duke won the first set 25-22 and second set 25-19, but took the third 25-13. The first set was host to five ties in the first 10 points and the second set had eight ties total. 

Duke struggled to establish a lead due to the Broncos’ offensive power, who still recorded 94 total attacks to Duke’s 100 despite the loss. However, Duke out-hit the Broncos 56 to 34. 

“We had to get our block up a little bit faster in order to slow their offense down,” Nagel said about Duke’s defense against the Broncos. “They did very well with it. They got to our outsides a little bit because it was such a fastball up there.” 

Graduate student Jess Robinson played a key role in Duke’s ability to establish a lead in the third set as she recorded 19 kills and two blocks for a stunning .792 hitting percentage for the evening.  

“We had to match their intensity and we had to outdo them. I really knew it was our game every time, it was just about putting it away,” Robinson said. “Every time we were telling ourselves that the next point was ours. They’re not coming back from this.” 

Robinson, a transfer from Michigan, received her most significant playing time of the season Saturday evening against Santa Clara. 

“[Robinson] is just an experienced player. She’s really physical and she’s doing a great job for us offensively. She was unstoppable blocking tonight. It was incredible,” Nagel said. 

After starting the 2023 season 0-2 with losses against Purdue and Loyola Chicago, the Blue Devils currently hold a winning streak of nine games heading into the start of their ACC slate. 

“We’re trying to find ourselves a little bit and are constantly improving game by game,” Nagel said. “We’re really proud of that.” 

However, the smooth sailing might come to a half this coming weekend as Duke opens conference play against 2023 Final Four participant Pittsburgh Friday evening before facing Virginia at home Sunday.


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