BATON ROUGE, La. -- Duke shook off a sluggish start to secure an undefeated weekend at the 2018 Tiger Classic, knocking off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-2 (24-26, 26-24, 19-25, 25-10, 15-9) Saturday afternoon at LSU’s Maravich Center.
Outside hitter Ade Owokoniran led all players with 28 kills, a career high for the freshman from Raleigh. With just four errors on 54 attack attempts, Owokoniran turned in a .444 hitting percentage to lead the Blue Devils to their third straight victory.
“Ade was really on today,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “She was really a force for us.”
After finishing its second match of the tournament late Friday night, Duke (3-2, 0-0 ACC) struggled to find its rhythm early in Saturday’s tournament conclusion. The Blue Devils committed 20 attack errors over the first three frames and trailed 2-1 overall heading into the fourth.
But the Blue Devils hit their stride the final two frames, winning the fourth in dominant fashion then building a sizeable margin to start the fifth.
“We struggled in a few different areas to get going,” Nagel said. “We needed to serve a little bit tougher and I thought our first touch was inconsistent. But our team did a good job of adjusting. It was a team win with a lot of people stepping up today, which is wonderful. You see how important it is for everyone on our team to keep working so they’re ready for the opportunity.”
After falling 25-19 in the third set, Duke stormed to a 25-10 fourth-frame, putting down 20 kills while hitting .472 as a team. The Blue Devils maintained that momentum early in the fifth and raced to an 8-3 advantage before claiming the final stanza, 15-9. Better ball control led to reduced errors as Duke committed a mere four attack errors combined over the fourth and fifth sets.
In addition to Owokoniran’s tremendous performance, middle blocker Leah Meyer also finished with double-digit kills, adding 10 while hitting .333. In five matches this season, Meyer has turned in four with double-digit kills and leads the team with a .372 hitting percentage.
Duke returns to Durham, N.C., with a busy week ahead. The Blue Devils welcome UNCG to Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday, September 4 before hosting Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina and ETSU in the 2018 Duke Invitational Friday-Saturday, September 7-8.