DURHAM, N.C. Ė ACC Player of the Year Carrie DeMange and sophomore Rachael Moss each topped 20 kills and picked up double-doubles to lead No. 22 Duke to a 3-2 (30-20, 30-25, 28-30, 29-31, 15-7) win over American Friday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the win, Duke advances to the NCAA second round for the third straight year and will face No. 7 Cal in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m.
In addition to DeMange’s performance, senior libero Jenny Shull reached yet another milestone with her 630th dig of the season, setting a new school record for the most digs in a season. Shull, who also owns the third and fourth-highest totals on the school’s single-season list, picked up 20 digs against American and is now just 25 digs away from setting the ACC’s all-time record.
DeMange, who finished 22-of-40 attacking for a .475 hitting percentage, collected her team-leading 22nd double-double of the year with a team-high 24 digs. The performance was her fourth 20-20 outing of the season and the 13th time this year in which the first team All-ACC middle blocker topped 20 kills in a match.
DeMange’s performance was tied directly to senior setter Ali Hausfeld, who served up 76 assists in 144 attempts for a .528 serve percentage, her third-highest mark of the season. Also a first team All-ACC selection and last year’s ACC Player of the Year, Hausfeld spread the wealth and allowed five Blue Devils to reach double figures in leading Duke to a .365 hitting percentage.
Duke (25-6) also received 20 kills from Moss, a second team All-ACC selection, and a combined 36 kills from the junior trio of Sue Carls, Jourdan Norman and Aana Wherry. Moss also collected her 21st double-double of the season with 15 digs to go along with her three service aces while Norman, who finished third in the ACC with a .400 hitting percentage, turned in a 16-for-24 attacking performance for a match-high .542 hitting percentage. Norman, who also ranked among the ACC’s top-10 in blocks, contributed nine of Duke’s 11 blocks, including a pair of solo stops.
Carls and Wherry were also efficient hitters as each turned in hitting percentages over .300. Carls connected on 11 of her 29 attacks for a .310 clip, while Wherry contributed 10 kills in 23 attempts for a .304 percentage.
Rubena Sukaj led American (26-8) with 22 kills and 13 digs, despite being held to a .130 hitting percentage. Duke allowed just one Eagle to hit over .300, as Cassandra Ricketts connected on 10 of her 17 attack for a .529 clip. American managed just a .173 hitting percentage and six blocks against the Blue Devils.
Duke opened the match with a .316 hitting percentage while holding American to a .056 clip in a 30-20 game one victory. Duke posted five blocks, all of which involved Norman, and four of which involved Carls. Norman also contributed six kills on nine errorless attacks while Moss finished 4-for-8.
Norman stayed hot through game two, finishing a perfect 7-for-7 attacking with two more blocks. DeMange started to heat up as well, turning in six kills on eight attacks. Hausfeld bumped up her ACC-leading assists per game average with 19 kills in the game, while Moss, Wherry and Carls all added a pair of kills to help Duke to a .471 clip.
Following the intermission, American fought to an early lead and held off a late Duke rally to stave off elimination with a 30-28 win. The Blue Devils still managed a .382 clip, but could not overcome a seven-kill, two-ace outing from Sukaj.
Neither team would budge in game four as American and Duke swapped points all the way to a 29-29 tie before the Eagles put the match away with consecutive points for the 31-29 victory. Sukaj came through with eight kills on 15 errorless attacks, while also picking up the majority of American’s defensive production as well with six digs and a block. The only player to outshine Sukaj was Duke’s Moss, who turned in an errorless 9-for-15 performance with four digs. Carls also connected on five of her eight attempts, while DeMange added four kills, eight digs and a pair of blocks.
After letting a 2-0 lead slip away, Duke got back on track and claimed a commanding 15-7 game five victory to seal the match. A resurgent defensive effort was the key for Duke, as the Blue Devils allowed just three kills in all of game five. Offensively, DeMange was nearly unstoppable and turned in a .500 clip with four kills and five blocks. Hausfeld, Moss, Norman, Wherry and Carls also contributed a kill each, while Hausfeld was on the setting end on eight of Duke’s nine kills.
The Blue Devils will move on the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they will face No. 7 California at 5 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 1.