GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Freshman Jordan Tucker hit .600 with 10 kills in her collegiate debut as the Duke volleyball team swept reigning Northeast Conference champion LIU Brooklyn 3-0 Friday morning in the first match of the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational.
Tucker, a 6-0 middle blocker from Prairie Village, Kan., was one of a trio of Blue Devils in double digit kills, joining teammates Emily Sklar (13 kills) and Jeme Obeime (12 kills). Overall, the Blue Devils hit .327 as a team while the defense was stellar in the season opener, limiting the Blackbirds to .045 hitting.
“Jordan was very smart out there,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “ She also took advantage of broken-play opportunities to be able to score. Overall, it was a lot of fun to be one of the first matches played in the country this morning at 10 a.m. We weren’t flawless by any means, but at the same time we did a lot of really good things.”
A back-and-forth affair in the early going, Duke eventually pulled ahead and took the first set 25-20. Trailing 19-18, Tucker registered the match-tying kill to spark a 5-0 Duke run. The Blue Devils’ defense, bolstered by four team blocks, limited the Blackbirds to .000 hitting while sophomore Elizabeth Campbell (9 kills, 5 digs) and Tucker led the way with four kills each.
“We knew we had to make [LIU Brooklyn] handle the ball,” Nagel said, “so we eliminated our errors and did not give them points. That was exciting to see because when we really needed to string points together, we were able to.”
Duke knocked down 17 kills to six for LIU Brooklyn in the second set, but five Blackbird service aces kept it close. LIU Brooklyn led by as many as seven before a 13-6 Duke run knotted the score at 21-21. A Blackbird service error and block from Tucker and Campbell ultimately sealed the set for the Blue Devils, giving Duke a 2-0 lead overall.
“We really had to focus on one point at a time to get back in that set,” added Nagel. “Our team did a great job in that situation to just play one point at a time. It was great to see us pull that out because we were down quite a bit.”
A 5-1 rally early in the third set gave Duke a 14-6 advantage and the Blue Devils never looked back, taking the final stanza 25-18. Sophomore setter Maggie Deichmeister, who finished with 37 assists on the day, dished out 13 assists in set three, helping Duke hit .433 as a team. Sklar added five kills and an ace, while Obeime totaled four kills and two blocks to lead the Blue Devils.
Duke returns to action later today, facing New Orleans at 5:30 p.m. from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
- Senior libero Ali McCurdy recorded 11 digs in this morning’s contest. The Tampa, Fla., native now has 1,956 digs for her career and is 245 shy of breaking the school record.
- Senior middle blocker Chelsea Cook was in on a team-high four of Duke’s 12 blocks while also adding four kills and a pair of aces. Cook led the team with 140 blocks during the 2012 campaign.
- Duke assistant coach Cristina Pintilie graduated from LIU Brooklyn in 2005. Pintilie played three years as a middle blocker at LIU Brooklyn, leading the Blackbirds to the 2004 NEC Championship while earning first team all-conference honors.