VB: State hands Duke first ACC loss, 3-1
Posted October 14, 2013
The NC State women’s volleyball team used double-digit kills from four different players to snap Duke’s 10-match winning streak and hand the squad its first conference loss of the season, 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-21), Sunday afternoon in Reynolds Coliseum. The Wolfpack also extended its conference match winning streak to four and remained undefeated on the season when registering an attacking percentage higher than .300 with a .317 clip.
“We just came out with a different energy in set two,” said head coach Bryan Bunn. “We were really flat in the first set and we still had a chance, but we just had no energy. We picked it up in sets two through four and that made all the difference.”
Junior Dariyan Hopper headlined a strong offensive output for the Wolfpack (14-4, 5-1 ACC) with a match-high 18 kills and a match-best .484 attacking percentage. Senior Meredith Richardson and junior Nikki Glass each smashed 11 kills, with Richardson charting a .429 hitting percentage and Glass a .300 clip. Brie Merriwether, a senior from Orlando, Fla., led the team in blocks with six, including two solo blocks and also chipped in with 10 kills.
“We had 62 kills on 145 swings and only committed 16 errors, so that’s fantastic,” Bunn said in reference to his team’s offensive attack. “We took advantage of some of Duke’s blocking schemes and were able to hit through or around them.”
On the defensive side, setter Tanna Aljoe paced the team with 16 digs. In addition, Aljoe also dished out 56 assists to record her fifth double-double performance of the season. Freshman Rachel Eppley contributed 13 digs and Glass narrowly missed double-digit digs with nine. Alston Kearns, a junior from Apex, N.C., only had six digs in the match but tallied the 1,000th dig of her career.
After dropping the first set, NC State responded in the second set with a team hitting percentage of .357 after recording a .222 in the opening frame. The Wolfpack also stepped up its defense in the second frame, tallying five blocks and limiting the Blue Devils (14-3, 5-1 ACC) to a -.032 attacking percentage.
State jumped out to an early led in the second set by forcing the Blue Devils’ outside hitters into back-to-back attack errors. The Wolfpack increased its lead to 5-1, before the Devils countered with three unanswered points. With the score tied at 11, the Pack went on a 6-0 run to extend the lead to 17-11. Buckley capped a 4-0 run to end the set with a kill from Aljoe.
“Beating any team in the conference is great, but Duke is playing really well right now so its great to get the win,” Bunn added. “To beat a good team like that gives us confidence going on our road trip Virginia this weekend.”
In the third set, Duke took the early lead but the Wolfpack stayed within striking distance, tying the score at three and then again at four prior to taking the lead, 5-4. After taking the lead, NC State never trailed again in the set, but the Blue Devils did knot the score again at 18.
With the score knotted at four, Merriwether smacked her sixth kill of the match to open up a 5-0 advantage for State. With NC State ahead 21-18 in the third set, Duke scored consecutive points, but the Wolfpack called a timeout to regain its composure. The Pack outscored the Blue Devils, 4-1 down the stretch to win the frame, 25-21.
The two teams were involved in a seesaw battle in the fourth set as the score was tied 14 times and there were three lead changes. Hopper tallied seven of her 18 kills in the frame and the Wolfpack hit .432 as a team – its highest hitting percentage in any set of the match.
After the score was tied at 20, NC State scored consecutive points on kills from Glass and Hopper to push the lead to 22-20, forcing Duke to take a timeout. An attack error by the Wolfpack trimmed the lead to 22-21, but the Pack scored three unanswered points to close out the match.
NC State will travel to the state of Virginia this weekend to face the Virginia Tech Hokies on Friday, Oct. 18 and will take the court on Saturday, Oct. 19 against the Virginia Cavaliers. Both contests are slated to begin at 7 p.m.