ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Freshman Emily Sklar led the Blue Devils with 16 kills as the Duke volleyball team rallied for a 3-1 (14-25, 25-23, 25-21, 27-25) victory over Eastern Michigan in its second match of the Coke/Michigan Invitational Friday evening at Cliff Keen Arena.
The Blue Devils struggled to find their rhythm in the early going, dropping the first set 25-14, but Duke bounced back to sweep the remaining three sets. Sklar's 16 kills led all players as the rookie outside hitter also added nine digs, barely missing her fourth career double-double. Junior middle blocker Chelsea Cook knocked down 10 kills, while also chipping in a team-high five blocks and two services aces, and freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell added nine kills on a team-high .474 hitting.
For the third time in as many matches, sophomore Kelsey Williams reached double figures in both assists and digs. Handling most of the setting duties, Williams totaled 44 assists to go along with a season-high 14 digs.
Led by Rachel Iaquaniello's 15 kills, Eastern Michigan (10-5) had four players reach double digit kills on the night. Both Iaquaniello and Erin Short recorded double-doubles for the Eagles in the loss.
"We knew this weekend would provide three challenging matches," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "Tonight we played a solid EMU team. We were in some tight sets where things could go either way. Our team hung in there and earned the win. We are continuing to learn how we need to play together. EMU put pressure on us and it was nice to see us respond."
EMU built a 12-7 margin to open the contest and the Blue Devils were unable to overcome the slow start, falling behind 1-0 in the match.
Duke would demonstrate its resilience, battling back from an early three-point deficit in the second set to tie the game at 13-13. The two teams continued to trade points, resulting in a 23-23 deadlock before the Blue Devils could pull away. Sklar registered the kill to put Duke up 24-23 and an EMU attack error gave the Blue Devils the second set victory.
With the momentum shifted in their favor, the Blue Devils came out strong in the third set and forced an Eastern Michigan timeout after building a five-point lead. Duke's advantage swelled to as many as eight and the Blue Devils closed out the set with a Sklar kill to take the 2-1 lead overall.
Duke found itself down 17-13 in the fourth set, but proceeded to win four of the next five points to pull within one. The two teams continued to trade points, reaching a 25-25 tie before an EMU attack error and Cook kill clinched both the set and the match for the Blue Devils.
Duke's defense held Eastern Michigan to a .196 hitting percentage on the night with junior libero Ali McCurdy leading all players with 25 digs. Cook and senior middle blocker Christiana Gray both added five blocks, helping Duke post 11 blocks as a team.
The Blue Devils wrap up the Coke/Michigan Invitational as well as the non-conference portion of its schedule Saturday, challenging No. 22 Michigan at 7 p.m.