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VB: 13th-Ranked Blue Devils Drop Yellow Jackets in Four

Posted November 16, 2013

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— The Blue Devils remained undefeated in Cameron Indoor Stadium as the 13th-ranked Duke volleyball team eclipsed visiting Georgia Tech 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 26-21, 25-16) Saturday evening. Duke is now 13-0 on its home court in 2013.

Sophomore Emily Sklar registered her sixth overall and second consecutive double-double to pace a balanced Blue Devil attack. The San Jose, Calif., native tied for the team lead with 14 kills and picked up 13 digs on the night. Junior Jeme Obeime also notched 14 kills, while freshman Jordan Tucker tallied 11 to round out the Duke (24-3, 15-1 ACC) contingent in double-digit kills.

Behind 53 assists from junior setter Maggie Deichmeister, the Blue Devils knocked down 56 kills to 45 for Georgia Tech (10-18, 4-12). Senior libero Ali McCurdy led all players with 19 digs, helping Duke pick up 58 digs to the Yellow Jackets’ 38.

“We’re working really hard to stay strong and get better all the time when we step out on the court,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “I was pleased with our kids, but they’ve got to hang tough and keep being aggressive. I thought we did that tonight on our serve. I was excited about that.”

Duke appeared to be in control in the first set after building a 23-18 lead following back-to-back Sklar kills. However, the Yellow Jackets rallied for seven consecutive points to stun the Blue Devils, 25-23. Three Jennifer Percy kills coupled with three Duke errors spurred the Georgia Tech rally, which culminated in an Annika Van Gunst kill.

“[Georgia Tech] played great defense, really went after us,” said McCurdy. “We struggled a little bit in the first set, so we knew we had to get back to playing our volleyball game and continue to go after them and continue to limit our errors. Credit to [Georgia Tech], they worked hard defensively and really went after it hitting wise to take us out of system.”

Despite the setback, the Blue Devils wasted little time establishing a six-point lead in the second game, going up 12-6 on a Yellow Jacket miscue. Deichmeister registered the service ace for a 20-13 Duke advantage then dished out assists on each of Duke’s final five kills to clinch the victory. Senior middle blocker Chelsea Cook, who finished the night with nine kills and just one attack error, and Obeime chipped in with four kills each to help the Duke cause.

Tied 1-1, the two teams battled back and forth in the third set, and Duke capitalized on seven Sklar kills to pull away in the end. Up 18-12, Duke saw its lead diminish to one point at 19-18. Tucker ended the Georgia Tech rally with a kill, combined with Elizabeth Campbell on the block assist and knocked down another kill to give the Blue Devils a 22-18 cushion. Kills from Obeime and Sklar finished off the frame, 25-21 in Duke’s favor.

Five errorless kills from Tucker helped Duke ice the match with a 25-16 victory in the fourth and final set. The Blue Devils led 10-9 before a 7-2 spurt, ignited by three Obeime kills, put Duke firmly in control. Georgia Tech would come no closer than seven the rest of the way as Cook recorded the solo block to end the match.

The final block was one of four for Cook, who also amassed nine kills with just one attack error on the night. Duke also tied a season-high with 13 service aces, led by Campbell and freshman Sasha Karelov with four apiece.

Percy put down 17 kills to lead the Yellow Jacket offense, while libero London Ackermann picked up 17 digs.

Duke hits the road this coming weekend for a pair of key ACC matches at Miami and Florida State. The Blue Devils square off against the Hurricanes Friday before meeting the Seminoles Sunday.

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