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Ali McCurdy
Courtesy: Duke Photography
Ali McCurdy
Road Trip to Miami, No. 19 Florida State Awaits Duke
Saturday 11/21/2013  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C. – In its final road trip of the season, the 13th-ranked Duke volleyball team heads south to face Miami and No. 19 Florida State in a pair of key ACC contests. The Blue Devils take on the Hurricanes Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. before visiting the Seminoles Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.

Four regular season matches remain on the schedule as first-place Duke (24-3, 15-1 ACC) holds a two-game lead over No. 14 North Carolina and No. 19 Florida State in the ACC standings. The Blue Devils, who enter the weekend on a 10-match winning streak, last won ACC Championships in 2010, 2008 and 2006.

The Blue Devils are coming off two conference victories this past weekend, a 3-0 win at Wake Forest and a four-set victory over Georgia Tech at home. Duke boasts one of the top offenses in the country as the Blue Devils lead the league and rank fifth nationally in kills per set (14.92).

Junior setter Maggie Deichmeister manages the Duke attack, dishing out 11.39 assists per set to lead the ACC and rank 17th nationally. Outside hitters Emily Sklar and Jeme Obeime are instrumental to Duke’s success, averaging 3.96 and 3.28 kills per game, respectively. Twice named ACC Player of the Week, Sklar is one of two ACC players averaging over 4.00 kills per frame in conference contests, while Obeime is the only player in the league to average over 3.00 kills per set and hit over .300.

Not to be outdone, Duke’s defense picks up 16.10 digs per game to pace all conference schools while limiting opposing teams to a .168 hitting percentage. Kansas natives Chelsea Cook and Jordan Tucker anchor Duke in the middle, while senior Ali McCurdy and Sasha Karelov solidify the Blue Devil backline. The ACC’s all-time digs leader, McCurdy leads the conference with a 4.86 digs per set average.

Duke met both Miami (16-10, 9-7 ACC) and Florida State (20-7, 13-3 ACC) in Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier this season, pulling out a five-set victory over the Seminoles before dispatching the Hurricanes in three.

The Blue Devils face the first of two hostile environments Friday as the Hurricanes boast a 6-2 mark at the Knight Sports Complex. With 385 kills to her credit, junior Savannah Leaf leads a Miami attack that ranks fifth in the ACC in kills per set. Hurricane junior middle blocker Emani Sims has been active at the net and leads the team with 127 blocks.

Duke and Miami square off for the 19th time in program history with the Blue Devils holding an 11-7 advantage in the all-time series. However, Duke is in search of its first win on the Hurricanes’ home court since the 2010 campaign.

Florida State is also strong at home, posting an 8-1 mark in Tully Gym this season, and the Seminoles lead the league in both hitting percentage (.260) and blocks per set (2.90). Sophomore Nicole Walch is the Seminoles’ top offensive target, amassing 348 kills. 2012 ACC Player of the Year Ashley Neff is tops in the ACC in blocks per set (1.47 bps) and also ranks second in hitting percentage (.364).

The Blue Devils and the Seminoles clash for the 51st time in school history Sunday. Duke leads the series, 36-14, but the Blue Devils have dropped four straight in Tallahassee. A closely-contested matchup as of late, six of the two teams’ past 10 meetings have gone to five sets.

Duke closes out the regular season at home, hosting NC State Wednesday, Nov. 27 and North Carolina Friday, Nov. 29.

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