KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Duke begins its 2009 NCAA Volleyball Tournament run this Friday, Dec. 4, with a first-round meeting against No. 24 Tennessee at 7 p.m. in the program's fifth straight trip to the NCAA Postseason.
Duke's match against Tennessee will be streamed live and free of charge over the internet. Fans can access the broadcast at http://all-access.cbssports.com/player.html?code=ncaa&media=156363. Fans can also keep up with the first and second-round action on Tennessee's Tournament Central homepage, which is available here: http://www.utladyvols.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/2009-ncaa-volleyball.html. Fans can also access Duke's game notes for the opening round here: http://www.goduke.com//pdf5/660127.pdf.
Duke (27-5, 17-3 ACC), which finished second in the ACC to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, has one of the toughest roads to the finals in the entire tournament. Of the 16 first and second-round sites, the Knoxville, Tenn., bracket is one of just two with all four teams coming in ranked in the NCAA's top-40 RPI.
The Blue Devils, however, are well-equipped to handle the challenge with a defense that ranked first in the ACC and a roster that includes four ACC award winners. After holding opponents to a .156 hitting percentage and ranking among the top three in the conference in kills per game and team hitting percentage, the Blue Devils placed senior Rachael Moss, junior Becci Burling and sophomore Kellie Catanach on the All-ACC Team and freshman Christiana Gray on the ACC All-Freshman squad.
Duke has had success against Tennessee in the past, posting an 11-8 all-time record against the Volunteers (23-7, 16-4 SEC). Tennessee has had success on its home court in Thompson-Boiling Arena, posting a 12-1 record on campus. Duke, however, has experience playing in Knoxville and took down Tennessee 3-1 in their last meeting, which was also during the NCAA Tournament's first round in 2006. Duke has fared well on the road as well this season, posting a 17-3 record outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Under the direction of Catanach and the strong arm of Moss, Duke comes into the tournament red hot with six straight wins. The Blue Devils have lost just six sets in November while dropping just one of their last 12 matches. Moss, who has been named ACC Player of the Week three times this season, will participate in her fourth NCAA Tournament along with senior teammates Christina Falcone, Brittany Staffeil and Juliana Traut. Those four make up one of only three classes in Duke volleyball history to reach the NCAA Tournament every year.
Duke has advanced into the second round of the tournament in each of the past four seasons, including 2008 when they upset No. 25 San Francisco 3-2 in Los Angeles, Calif. Duke also defeated American 3-2 in 2007, Tennessee 3-2 in 2006 and American again 3-0 in 2005. Duke is 9-14 all-time in the tournament and has made more postseason trips than any other ACC school.