DURHAM, N.C. – Up 2-0, Duke was unable to hold off Louisville in the end, falling to the Cardinals 3-2 (25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 16-25, 10-15) Sunday afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“I was really proud of how our team came out and executed and worked together to make things happen for ourselves,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “Really proud of this entire group with some of the adjustments we’ve had to make this entire season. But we needed to come out and get that third set. We came up a little bit short and that just cracks that window open. We need to be able to finish strong when we’re in this situation.
Middle blockers Anna Kropf and Summer Brown both posted standout performances. Kropf knocked down a career-high 18 kills and hit .467, while Brown added nine kills on .444 hitting. The two also registered three blocks each.
Kropf’s career effort led a group of four Blue Devils in double-digit kills. Senior outside hitter Cadie Bates notched her 14th double-double of the season with a 13-kill, 20-dig performance Sunday. Junior Jessi Bartholomew extended her streak to seven-straight matches with double-digit kills, adding 10 versus the Cardinals. Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz also had 10 kills for Duke.
Defensively, libero Nicole Elattrache led Duke with 23 digs to go along with two service aces. In addition to Bates, setter Sarah Nelson added a double-double with 42 assists and 13 digs. Defensive specialist Kelli Kalinoski contributed 11 digs as well.
Tied 23-23 near the end of the first, Duke capitalized on a Louisville service error coupled with an attack error to win the stanza, 25-23. Kropf had five of the Blue Devils’ 15 kills in the set.
Bates put down seven kills on .353 hitting in the second to catapult Duke to a 25-22 decision.
Duke seemed close to securing a sweep, up 19-17 in the third, before Louisville closed out on an 8-4 run.
The Cardinals’ momentum carried over to the fourth, which Louisville led from start to finish. Louisville hit .310 in the frame with 17 kills to tie the match 2-2 overall.
Duke fell behind 5-1 early in the fifth and could not recover in the end. Louisville completed the comeback with a 15-10 final frame.
Melanie McHenry’s 16 kills paced a contingent of five Cardinals in double digits. Setter Wilma Rivera totaled 52 assists, 27 digs and six kills in the winning effort.
Duke takes to the road this coming week, traveling to Wake Forest Nov. 8 before embarking to Pittsburgh Nov. 12.