DURHAM, N.C. – Duke dropped its first ACC contest of the 2017 season, falling in four to Syracuse Thursday evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Orange started strong and the Blue Devils were unable to recover in the 3-1 (17-25, 18-25, 25-22, 17-25) decision.
Duke (10-4, 2-1 ACC) struggled against the Orange’s size up front and Syracuse (10-6, 2-1 ACC) totaled 14.0 blocks to the Blue Devils 2.0. The difference in blocks contributed to Syracuse’s .304 hitting percentage for the match compared to the Blue Devils’ .107 clip.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do to stop them,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “They’re a big team. They’ve got some strong hitters. We served a little bit too easy tonight to take them out of that. We also were not at the level we need to be to compete. There are things we needed to do better to counteract their size.”
Senior outside hitter Cadie Bates recorded her team-leading sixth double-double to pace the Blue Devils. Bates knocked down 12 kills and picked up 16 digs. Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz paced Duke with 13 kills while also collecting seven digs.
Syracuse received 15 kills from each of its outside hitters in Anastasiya Gorelina and Ella Saada. Middle blocker Santita Ebangwese contributed a double-double as well, notching 10 kills and 10 blocks.
Duke fell behind early and never recovered to start the first. Syracuse led 10-5 and took the opening stanza 25-17 behind five Ebangwese kills.
The Blue Devils trailed early again to begin the second before rallying to tie the score at 15-15 on a Bates’ kill. Syracuse used three consecutive blocks to ignite a 10-3 rally that lifted the Orange past Duke, 25-18.
Duke trailed by as many as seven points in the third before finished strong, 25-22. The Blue Devils chipped away at the sizeable deficit until Natalie Schilling’s kill knotted the score, 21-21. Sophomore Samantha Amos notched a block assist and a kill to help Duke take the lead before a Bates’ kill completed the set.
Duke’s momentum proved short-lived as Syracuse raced to a 16-6 fourth-set start. The Orange posted 18 kills on .472 hitting ton end any threat of a Blue Devil comeback.
Duke returns to action at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 1 against Boston College. ACC Network Extra will broadcast the match from Cameron Indoor Stadium.