DURHAM, N.C. – In the midst of a four-match road swing, the 24th-ranked Duke volleyball team travels to Georgia Tech and Clemson Oct. 18 and 20 for a pair of ACC matches. The Blue Devils take the court Friday at 8:30 p.m. against the Yellow Jackets before facing the Tigers Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Regional Sports Network and ESPN3 are set to broadcast Friday’s contest with Mike Hogewood (play-by-play) and Cecile Reynaud (analyst) calling the action. Clemson will stream video of Sunday’s contest via its official athletic website ClemsonTigers.com.
After receiving votes in each of the past three weeks, Duke (14-3, 5-1 ACC) earned a spot in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, coming in at No. 24. The Blue Devils have been ranked in the top 25 nationally at least one week in three of the past four seasons.
After handing then-No. 10 North Carolina its first loss of the season Friday, Duke saw its 10-match win streak come to an end Sunday at NC State. Prior to Sunday’s loss, the Blue Devils had not dropped consecutive sets since falling at then-No. 4 Minnesota Sept. 7. The win streak was Duke’s longest since the Blue Devils registered 11 straight victories from Oct. 28 to Dec. 1, 2006.
The Blue Devils boast one of the more balanced offenses in the country as three Duke players – Elizabeth Campbell, Jeme Obeime and Emily Sklar – each average over three kills per game. Duke leads the ACC and ranks fourth nationally in both kills per set (15.11) and assists per set (13.96), while the Blue Devils’ .257 team hitting percentage trails only Virginia Tech for the conference lead.
Sklar, an outside hitter from San Jose, Calif., has been Duke’s top target on offense, knocking down a team-leading 206 kills to start her sophomore campaign. Sklar averages 3.96 kills per game, a mark which leads the Blue Devils and also ranks second in the ACC. Obeime has also been a consistent presence for Duke, totaling 191 kills on the year. The Carmel, Ind., native is one of just two ACC players, along with Florida State’s Elise Walch, to average over 3.00 kills per set while also hitting over .300.
Duke’s offense runs through junior setter Maggie Deichmeister, who has already established a single-season career high with 619 assists this season. Deichmeister currently leads the ACC and ranks 25th nationally with an 11.25 assists per set average. The Whitehall, Pa., native is strong defensively as well, ranking second on the team with 141 digs.
Not to be outdone, Duke’s defense leads the conference in digs per frame, averaging 15.73. Senior Ali McCurdy anchors the Duke backcourt, amassing a team-high 247 digs. McCurdy enters Friday’s match with 2,192 career digs, a mark that ranks second nationally among active players, and needs just nine digs to break the school career record.
Georgia Tech (7-11, 1-5 ACC) will look to snap a three-match losing streak Friday versus Duke. The Yellow Jackets fell, 3-0, in their last outing, an Oct. 12 home matchup against Notre Dame. A dangerous team at home, Georgia Tech knocked off then-No. 18 Florida State in four sets Oct. 4.
A balanced offensive unit, Jennifer Percy (201 kills, .230), Quinn Evans (122 kills, .317) and Chanell Clark-Bibbs (116 kills, .211) receive the majority of the sets for Georgia Tech. Evans also leads the Yellow Jackets with 68 blocks, while freshman London Ackerman holds the team lead with 196 digs.
Duke owns a 41-19 advantage in the all-time series with Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils have won three straight and eight of their past 10 matches versus the Yellow Jackets, including both contests in last season’s home-and-home series.
Coming off two wins last week against Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, Clemson (9-8, 3-3 ACC) entertains Wake Forest Friday prior to facing the Blue Devils Sunday. The Blue Devils are tasked with slowing reigning ACC Player of the Week Mo Simmons, who averages 4.63 kills per set to lead the ACC and rank ninth nationally. In addition, middle blocker Leah Perri took home ACC Freshman of the Week accolades Monday after totaling 20 kills without an attack error last week.
Duke is 35-23 against Clemson in program history. However, the Tigers have had the upper hand recently, taking three straight from the Blue Devils. Clemson won both matches in a home-and-home series a season ago, topping Duke in five sets each 2012 contest.
The Blue Devils return home the following weekend to face Florida State and Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium Oct. 25 and 26, respectively.