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VB: No. 18 Duke Shakes Off Slow Start to Down Syracuse, 3-1

Posted November 1, 2013

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— Three Blue Devil players registered double-doubles as the 18th-ranked Duke volleyball team rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Syracuse 3-1 (16-25, 25-10, 25-17, 25-20) in ACC action Friday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Riding a four-match win streak, Syracuse came out strong in the opening frame, but the Blue Devils responded to capture the final three sets.

Sophomores Elizabeth Campbell and Emily Sklar both picked up their third double-doubles of the season as Campbell totaled 15 kills and 10 digs while Sklar added a match-high 17 kills and 12 digs. With her performance tonight, Sklar extended her streak to 14 consecutive matches with 10 or more kills.

With 50 assists and 11 digs, junior setter Maggie Deichmeister recorded her team-leading sixth double-double, orchestrating a Duke attack which totaled 60 kills. The Whitehall, Pa., averaged 12.5 assists per game to reach the 50-assist plateau for the fifth time during the 2013 campaign.

“I think this game we started a little slow,” said Sklar. “We weren’t really warm yet. We did a great job in the later games. Our offense is run by a great setter, Maggie [Deichmeister], and I think she did a great job this game setting up our hitters for success.”

After committing 10 attack errors in the opening frame, the Blue Devils limited the offensive miscues to just two each in the second and third sets, taking the middle games in commanding fashion. Errors again plagued Duke in the fourth set, but the Blue Devils closed out the match on a 6-1 run to seal the victory.

“We’re really relieved and thankful we were able to get this one tonight,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to some of the time, but I was proud of the way our team hung in there. Syracuse played great defense and kept a lot of balls alive, and I was pleased with the way we hung in there to get through and get this win at home.”

Syracuse stormed out to a 7-2 lead to start the match and never trailed in the first game of the night. The Orange posted a .393 hitting percentage, knocking down 12 kills while committing just one attack error to stun the Blue Devils, 25-16, in game one.

“That was not pretty,” Nagel said. “I think that we were a little tight and we weren’t really controlling the ball well. We needed to relax a little bit so we could get a rhythm going to control the ball better to get our offense going. We also needed to pick up our communication. I thought that got better as the set went on.”

Duke turned the momentum around in game two with a resounding 25-10 win. Led by four kills from middle blocker Chelsea Cook, Duke hit a blistering .519 to tie the match at 1-1. The Blue Devils led 17-3 before a 4-0 Syracuse spurt brought the Orange within 10. A Jeme Obeime kill, one of 10 for the outside hitter from Carmel, Ind., put an end to the Orange run and Duke won seven of the final 10 points to finish off the set.

Duke’s offense continued to roll in the third set, totaling 18 kills behind 13 assists from Deichmeister. Syracuse made it an 18-16 game following a Silvi Uattara kill, but the Blue Devils answered with a 7-1 run to close out the frame. Sklar added seven kills without an attack error to lead the way.

Syracuse fought off a five-point disadvantage in the fourth set to tie the game at 19-19 late. Duke’s 10th attack error of the stanza gave the Orange a brief 20-19 lead before a Campbell kill knotted the score at 20-all. Back-to-back Cook kills put Duke in control and Sklar knocked down her 17th kill of the evening to clinch the victory.

“We knew Syracuse was going to show up to play,” said senior libero Ali McCurdy. “They had a big four-match win streak coming into this. We knew they were going to come in here and play hard. That’s what they did. We knew we were going to have to adjust things because we had never played them before, so that was sort of a new look. I think we could’ve played better. Consistency wise, it was a little up and down, but it’s good to get a win.”

The Duke defense, led by McCurdy, buckled down after the first set and limited Syracuse to a .094 hitting percentage over the final three games. McCurdy amassed 22 digs to lead all players, reaching double-digit digs for the 40 straight match. With 2,290 career digs, the Tampa, Fla., native is 14 digs shy of breaking the ACC record.

Outside hitter Uattara paced the Orange with 12 kills and seven digs. Fellow hitter Nicolette Serratore added 11 kills while libero Melina Violas picked up 15 digs.

Next up, Duke hosts Boston College (9-15, 0-11 ACC) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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