The Duke volleyball team wrapped up yet another successful season in 2009, putting together the program's fourth straight 25-win campaign and fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Blue Devils posted a final record of 27-6 and finished second in the ACC with a 17-3 conference record. The 27 victories were the sixth most in school history and the second most under 11th-year head coach Jolene Nagel, while the second-place ACC finish marked the sixth straight year in which the Blue Devils finished among the top three in the conference. Only Florida State, which drew the No. 3 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, finished higher than Duke, posting a 19-1 ACC record.
After rounding out the regular season on a six-match winning streak, Duke ventured to Knoxville, Tenn., for the first round of the NCAA Tournament where they faced No. 24 Tennessee in the opener. The Volunteers got the best of the Blue Devils, winning 3-1 on their home court, to hand Duke its first first-round exit since 2002. Despite the loss, however, the 2009 Blue Devils continued to build Duke into one of the elite program's on the East Coast.
Duke Boasts Best Defense In ACC
The Blue Devils held their opponents to a .160 hitting percentage, which was the lowest in the conference. Duke allowed only three teams to hit over .300 on the year and held 26 teams under .200. Ten of those squads hit under .100. The only three teams to hit over .300 against Duke were No. 1 Penn State (.391) and No. 12 Florida State twice (.301 and .306). The unit was led by middle blockers Becci Burling and Christiana Gray, who each topped 100 blocks, libero Claire Smalzer, who averaged 4.05 digs per set, and defensive specialists Nailah Waterfield, who collected 252 digs, and Alex Sall, who picked up a career-high 129.
Duke Offense Among Best In The Conference
Duke had one of the ACC's best offenses yet again, leading the ACC with an average of 12.90 assists per set, finishing second with 13.83 kills per set and third with a .255 hitting percentage. Led by setter Kellie Catanch, outside hitter Rachael Moss and middle blocker Becci Burling - all of which earned All-ACC honors - Duke was one of three ACC teams to hit over .250. Four Blue Devils reached 200 kills on the year, including Moss (363), Burling (340), Sophia Dunworth (295) and Christiana Gray (200).
Two Blue Devils Named All-East Region
Duke placed two players on the All-East Region squad for the 10th consecutive season, with Moss and Catanach each earning a spot. The regional citation was the third for Moss, who is a former East Region Freshman of the Year, and the second for Catanach, who earned the award as a freshman.
Duke Seniors Go Out On Top
Duke's senior class, composed of Christina Falcone, Rachael Moss, Brittany Staffeil and Christina Falcone left as Duke volleyball's winningest class. The quartet helped Duke post a four-year record of 106-26 (.803) which was the most wins by a class in school history. Additionally, they became the first class to win at least 25 matches every year and the third to make the NCAA Tournament every season.
Moss Leaves Her Mark On Duke Record Books
Senior Rachael Moss became just the third player in Duke history to finish among the program's top five in career kills, digs and service aces. With at least 300 kills every year, Moss finished third at Duke in kills (1,686), fourth in digs (1,557) and fourth in service aces (167). She also led Duke with 14 double-doubles in 2009, giving her 69 in her four-year career.
Moss Becomes Duke's First First-Team Academic All-America
Rachael Moss became the first Duke volleyball player to earn ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honors as a senior. With a 3.94 grade point average as a Political Science major and Theater minor, Moss also became the second Blue Devil to twice be named to the Academic All-America team, joining former teammate Ali Hausfeld who collected two second-team citations. In all, Moss is the fourth Blue Devil to earn Academic All-America recognition.
Gray Tabbed ACC All-Freshman
Freshman Christiana Gray stepped in to make an immediate impact in her inaugural season as a Blue Devil and was rewarded with a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team. A 6-5 middle blocker, "T" started all but one match for the Blue Devils and led the team with a .314 hitting percentage. She posted 113 blocks and was a major contributor to a Duke defense that held teams to an ACC-low .160 hitting percentage.
Along with freshman middle blocker Christiana Gray, who earned ACC All-Freshman honors, Duke's freshman class made significant contributions to the team's success in 2009. The group, which was ranked as the 16th-best freshman class in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com, included Gray, outside hitter Megan Hendrickson and defensive specialists Phoebe Maglathlin and Nailah Waterfield. Waterfield appeared in all but one match for Duke and averaged 2.36 digs per game while also picking up 18 service aces. Hendrickson was a key reserve, posting 98 kills at an average of 2.04 per set off the bench. Maglathlin got in on five matches and collected eight digs and a pair of service aces, both of which came in a single match against NC State.
Aces Are Wild
Duke led the ACC with 175 service aces and recorded at least one ace in every match while averaging over five aces per match. Libero Claire Smalzer led the team with 40 aces, while Rachael Moss totaled 32, Kellie Catanach totaled 28 and Amanda Robertson put down 21. Smalzer was one of two Blue Devils to finish with more aces than serving errors, while Catanach was the other. Smalzer had multiple aces in 13 matches and at least one ace in all but seven outings.
Home Court Advantage
The Blue Devils excelled yet again on their home court in Cameron Indoor Stadium, posting an 11-2 record on Coach K Court. The Blue Devils boast a 116-21 (.847) winning percentage on their home floor since 2000 and have lost no more than two matches at home in a season since 2005. Duke's only two home losses in 2009 were to No. 1 Penn State (3-0) and No. 12 Florida State (3-2).
On The Road
Duke also excelled on the road, finishing 17-4 (.810) outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils went 11-3 in away matches and 5-1 on neutral courts while stringing together an eight-match road winning streak at one point.
ACC Players Of The Week
Duke led all ACC schools with four ACC Players of the Week, three of which went to senior Rachael Moss. Sophomore setter Kellie Catanach also pulled in an award, which was the first of her career. Moss has been named ACC Player of the Week six times in her career.