NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Duke volleyball team rallied from a slow start to win its eighth straight match, earning a 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-17) victory over Notre Dame Wednesday evening at the Purcell Pavilion. Duke’s eight consecutive victories mark the team’s longest win streak since the 2010 campaign.
Outside hitters Emily Sklar and Jeme Obeime were outstanding against the Irish, combining for 34 kills and just 11 attack errors. Sklar led Duke (12-2, 3-0 ACC) with a season-high 18 kills, while Obeime knocked down 16. Overall, Duke posted a .319 hitting percentage, marking the seventh time this season the Blue Devils have hit over .300 as a team.
“We had a slow start, but our team did a good job to get the focus they needed,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. [Notre Dame] was just on fire, and they were a little more disciplined on defense. Our outside hitters carried a lot of the load tonight, and they managed to do it very well. They were consistent; they minimized the errors. [Sklar and Obeime] put 18 and 16 kills down, which was great. They did what we needed them to do tonight.”
In addition, senior Chelsea Cook turned in a career-high 13 kills, amassing eight in a crucial second set, to go along with four blocks and five digs.
“Chelsea is just a workhorse, night in and night out,” Nagel added. “She’s just so steady. She does the hard work out there, the job that nobody else wants to do all the time. I’m really excited she was able to do as well as she did offensively tonight. She did a great job for us, and on top of that she’s a great leader. We’re pretty excited about her game tonight.”
Obeime led all players with five kills in the opening game, but Notre Dame (6-8, 0-3 ACC) jumped out to a seven-point lead early. The Irish posted a .395 hitting percentage and limited Duke to .243 hitting during the first set. The Blue Devils got as close as five points, but the deficit proved too much in the end as Duke dropped the frame, 25-18.
Down 1-0, the second set began much like the first with Duke facing an early 5-0 deficit. The two teams traded points as Duke found itself down 17-12 midway through the set. The Blue Devils found an answer in Cook, who accumulated eight kills and two blocks in the set to propel Duke to a 25-22 victory. Back-to-back Cook kills tied the score at 21-all before Duke closed out the stanza on a 4-1 run, including a Cook kill for the final point.
A five-point Blue Devil lead disappeared late in the third set. Notre Dame had trailed 18-13, but fought back with an 8-3 rally to tie the score at 21-all. The Irish eked ahead 24-23 before a Notre Dame service error again knotted the score. Obeime put down the kill on the next play and an Irish attack error gave Duke the third-set win, 26-24.
Sklar recorded six kills on .556 hitting to lead Duke in the fourth and final frame. An early three-point lead grew into a six-point Duke advantage at the midway point. Duke never looked back the rest of the way, clinching the game, 25-17. The Blue Devils hit .452 in the final stanza, compared to a .188 hitting percentage for the Irish.
Junior setter Maggie Deichmeister dished out 55 assists and totaled eight digs and four blocks in the win. Freshman Alyse Whitaker chipped in with a career-best five kills, while senior libero Ali McCurdy added a match-high 14 digs, bringing her season total to 201.
Irish outside hitter Toni Alugbue turned in a solid performance, amassing 20 kills in the loss. Senior outside hitter Nicole Smith also reached double-digit kills with 12 in the contest.
Duke returns to action Sunday, Oct. 6, playing host to Wake Forest in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 2 p.m.