WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Five Blue Devils finished in double-digit kills but the Duke volleyball team came up just short, falling to Wake Forest 3-2 (34-32, 18-25, 25-20, 25-27, 11-15) Tuesday at Reynolds Gym.
Duke (15-17, 6-14 ACC) led 2-1 heading into the fourth game, but Wake Forest (11-21, 5-15 ACC) held the Blue Devils to .159 hitting over the final two sets to rally for the victory. Duke and Wake Forest were nearly even in total kills with the Blue Devils holding a slight 74-73 edge. The Demon Deacons held the upper hand in hitting percentage, .239 to .229, while Duke amassed 15 blocks to 13.5 for Wake Forest. Eight service errors hurt the Blue Devils as Duke registered just one ace in the match.
"We're very disappointed we didn't come out on top tonight," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "We would've liked to have done that for our seniors. We didn't serve as well as we needed to in order to put some pressure on Wake. That's one area I wish we could've been stronger in tonight."
Freshman Emily Sklar led Duke with 17 kills, followed closely by sophomore Jeme Obeime and classmate Elizabeth Campbell with 15 each. Campbell reached double-digit kills for the seventh time in Duke's past eight matches and also contributed 15 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Senior Christiana Gray hit .393 with 13 kills and eight blocks and fellow middle blocker Chelsea Cook rounded out Duke's contingent in double-digit kills as the junior added 11 in addition to six blocks, including four solo stops.
Junior Ali McCurdy extended her school single season digs record to 672 with 18 pickups tonight. McCurdy now has 1,945 career digs to her name, the second-highest total in Duke history.
The first set began with a 15-11 Blue Devil lead, but Duke would find itself down 24-23 late. In an exciting finish to the opening frame, the Blue Devils fought off six set points down the stretch, utilizing five kills from Sklar. Tied at 32-32, Duke sealed the victory with back-to-back kills from Deichmeister and Obeime. The Duke offense was in a rhythm early as the Blue Devils hit .365 in the set, led by Obeime and Sklar who combined for 14 kills on .542 hitting.
An early deficit in set two ultimately proved the difference as Wake Forest took advantage of a 13-4 start to tie the match at 1-1. Duke put together a rally of its own, pulling as close as 19-17 before the Demon Deacons closed out the frame.
Duke's defense limited Wake Forest to .000 hitting in the third set, the Demon Deacons' lowest of the night. The Blue Devils opened the frame with a three-point lead, but saw that advantage disappear after a 7-3 Wake Forest run. The Blue Devils regrouped and outscored the Deacs 10-4 the rest of the way. Campbell was outstanding in the stanza, knocking down five kills without an error on six attacks.
The Blue Devils trailed most of the way in set four and faced a 23-21 deficit late. A pair of Demon Deacon errors tied things up at 23-all before Wake Forest responded with a kill from Ashlee Rucker. Duke, looking to repeat its performance in the first set, fought off two set points but Wake prevailed in the end with a Jazmen Russell kill and Megan Miller ace. Russell would lead all players on the night with 21 kills while Miller ended the evening with a match-high 26 digs.
Duke led 8-5 at the midway point of set five, but Wake Forest rallied with a 6-1 spurt to take an 11-9 lead. The momentum remained in the Demon Deacons' favor the rest of the way as Wake closed out the match with an Ashley Rusk kill six points later.