DURHAM, N.C. - With the match tied 2-2, the Duke University volleyball team turned in its top performance of the night, hitting a match-high .385 in the decisive fifth set to knock off Georgia Tech, 3-2 (20-25, 25-15, 25-16, 13-25, 15-13) Saturday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
With the victory, Blue Devil head coach Jolene Nagel, with associate head coach John Wasielewski at her side, picked up her 300th win as head coach at Duke. The pair has been together 14 seasons at Duke, compiling a 300-130 record with the Blue Devils.
Freshman Emily Sklar paced the Duke offense, tying Georgia Tech's Monique Mead with a match-high 17 kills. Sklar, who knocked down five kills in the final set including the game winner, committed just two errors on 41 attacks to lead all players with a .366 hitting percentage for the match. Sophomore Jeme Obeime and senior Christiana Gray tallied eight kills each, while junior Chelsea Cook and freshman Elizabeth Campbell combined for 13 kills and 12 blocks on the night. Junior libero Ali McCurdy continued her stellar play, amassing 27 digs in the win.
Duke (11-9, 2-6 ACC) has now won two straight in the series and improves to 40-19 all-time against Georgia Tech (14-5, 6-3 ACC). Bailey Hunter recorded a double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs while libero Nicki Meyer led the Yellow Jackets with 17 digs.
"I am proud of our team's effort and how they hung in there in set five," said Nagel. "They were able to execute in set five against some really good Georgia Tech players. Georgia Tech is a strong opponent with some very talented players. We easily could not have stepped up to the plate, but I thought we did a good job of staying steady in those times and pushing through."
Duke found itself down 15-11 midway through the opening frame and was unable to narrow the gap, falling 25-20 in the first set. After hitting .103 with eight errors in the opening game, Duke flipped the momentum in sets two and three, registering a combined .326 hitting percentage for the two games.
The Blue Devils bolted to an 8-3 advantage to start the second set, forcing a Georgia Tech timeout. Duke's lead extended to 20-11 and the Blue Devils iced the set with a kill by Gray. Duke opened the following set by again staking an early lead. Up 11-7, Duke would outscore the Yellow Jackets 10-7 to go up 21-14 after a Deichmeister ace. The Blue Devils finished things off with a kill from Sklar as Duke hit .300 for the stanza while holding Georgia Tech to a .065 hitting percentage.
Georgia Tech controlled the fourth set from the start, taking a 15-6 lead on its way to a 25-13 set win. The Yellow Jackets hit .292 while holding Duke to -.074.
After struggling to find their rhythm in the fourth set, the Blue Devils maintained their composure in a back-and-forth final stanza. Tied at 7-7 in the fifth set, kills from Sklar and Obeime sparked a 3-1 Blue Devil run. Duke maintained its two-point advantage until Georgia Tech pulled within one at 14-13. Undeterred, the Blue Devils sealed the victory with a Sklar kill following a Duke timeout.
Duke's five-match home stand concludes Tuesday, October 16 as the Blue Devils play host to Wake Forest at 7 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils then hit the road for Virginia, facing UVa Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m., before playing Virginia Tech Saturday, October 20 at 6 p.m.