CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Junior libero Ali McCurdy amassed a career-high 37 digs, but the Duke volleyball team came up just short, falling 3-1 (18-25, 25-19, 29-27, 25-21) at Miami Friday evening at the Knight Sports Complex.
Almost a week after totaling 33 digs against North Carolina, McCurdy bettered that performance against the Hurricanes as she once again anchored the Blue Devil defense. The Tampa, Fla., native is the only player in the ACC to top 30 digs this season as her total tonight is tied for second-highest all-time in the Duke record books. In addition, she is the only Blue Devil in school history to total over 35 digs in a four-set match.
"Ali [McCurdy]was everywhere tonight," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "She really was amazing tonight, flying around the court and reading balls. She's turned into a leader for our team and hopefully she can continue to play like that because she was huge for us tonight."
After missing two matches last weekend due to injury, freshman Emily Sklar returned with 10 kills and 23 digs in her team-leading fifth double-double of the season. Sophomore Jeme Obeime led the Blue Devils with 11 kills, while senior Christiana Gray added 10 kills and two blocks.
"Some good things happened tonight and yet we came up on the short end of things," added Nagel. "Miami is a very athletic and well-coached team. We put forth a great effort and did a better job of controlling the first ball, which gave us more opportunities. I would like to see us block a few more balls and put a few more balls away for kills. We served pretty well, but we had a few too many errors. If we can continue to minimize the lapses, then we're going to be where we want to be."
The Hurricanes captured the opening set, 25-18, to stake an early 1-0 advantage. Duke responded in the second set, building a 15-11 lead following an Elizabeth Campbell ace at the midway point. The Blue Devils maintained their lead the rest of the way as a Miami service error ended the stanza, 25-19, in Duke's favor. Gray led the Blue Devils with four kills on .667 hitting as Duke also posted four service aces in the second set.
With the match tied at 1-1, the Blue Devils (9-6, 0-3 ACC) trailed the Hurricanes (11-3, 3-1 ACC) 19-15 before battling back to tie the third set at 23-all. Four ties later, Miami eked out a tightly-contested 29-27 win to take the 2-1 lead overall then utilized the momentum to build an early lead in what proved to be the final frame.
"[The third set] is an example of what this team is capable of when they put their mind to it," said Nagel. "We were down quite a bit and it took a lot to come back in that set. Now we just need to not allow ourselves to get in that situation."
Miami had three players total 10 or more kills with Emani Sims registering a match-high 18. Taylor Hollins also added a double-double with 10 kills and 14 digs for the Hurricanes.
Duke heads north to Tallahassee, Fla., for a Sunday matchup against No. 14 Florida State. The Blue Devils and the Seminoles square off at 1 p.m., Sunday, September 30 in Tully Gym.