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VB: Atkinson leads No. 15 Duke past Maryland

Posted November 8, 2013

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— Sophomore Breanna Atkinson turned in a career night to lead the 15th-ranked Duke volleyball team to a 3-0 (27-25, 25-19, 25-20) road victory over Maryland Friday evening at the Comcast Center. Making her second start of the season, Atkinson totaled a career-best 16 kills on .371 hitting to lead all players.

“Breanna [Atkinson] went out there tonight, and we needed her to be aggressive and to have fun out there, and that’s exactly what she did,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “She was very effective. She served well, she hit well and she played solid defense. I’m just really excited for her. She did a great job for our team tonight.”

Junior outside Jeme Obeime added eight kills, while senior middle blocker Chelsea Cook contributed seven. Cook also matched a career high with eight blocks on the night as Duke (21-3, 12-1 ACC) amassed 12.0 stops as a team.

“We could’ve easily folded and gotten frazzled because [Maryland] had a good crowd here and had the band here, but I thought we did a good job of staying calm and executing. I think that has a lot to do with how our team worked together and communicated as well. It’s pretty exciting as a coach to hear the entire team working so hard on that communication.”

Four kills apiece from Atkinson and Cook helped Duke battle through a tightly-contested opening set for the 27-25 victory. Duke weathered an early 6-1 Maryland (12-13, 4-9 ACC) advantage and appeared to be in control with a 20-17 following an Obeime kill. However, three-straight Maryland service aces brought the Terps right back, and the two teams remained deadlocked at 25-25. Atkinson’s fourth kill of the frame gave Duke a one point lead and an Elizabeth Campbell service ace cemented win.

Atkinson knocked down seven of Duke’s 13 kills in the second game to lead the Blue Devils to a 25-19 decision. Up 20-19, Duke utilized a 5-0 run, capped by back-to-back kills from Jordan Tucker, to close out the frame and take a 2-0 lead overall.

An 8-2 Duke run put the Blue Devils ahead 18-12 late in the third frame, but Maryland fought back with a 7-2 spurt, cutting the deficit to two points. An Obeime kill sparked a 4-0 rally to close out the match, culminating in Cook’s seventh kill of the evening to give Duke the win.

Duke’s defense limited the Terps to .124 hitting, marking the 18th time this season the Blue Devils have held their opponent to under a .200 hitting percentage. Senior libero Ali McCurdy continued to add to her ACC-leading career total, picking up a match-high 15 digs.

Junior middle Adreené Elliott paced the Maryland attack with 10 kills, while junior outside Mary Cushman added nine to go along with a team-high 11 digs.

Duke next travels to Pittsburgh for its first meeting with the Panthers since the 2005 campaign. The Blue Devils take the court against Pitt Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m.

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