FORT WORTH, Texas – Lehigh won the first two sets before Duke stormed back to secure its second five-set victory of the day, downing the Mountain Hawks 3-2 (21-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-12) Saturday evening at TCU’s University Recreation Center.
Rightside hitters Samantha Amos and Natalie Schilling paced Duke (7-2) with 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz was the third Blue Devil to reach double-digit kills, knocking down 11.
Libero Nicole Elattrache led all players with a career-high 29 digs to anchor the backline. Duke’s defense limited Lehigh (5-5) to a .157 hitting percentage for the match as outside hitter Cadie Bates (17), setter Emma Paradiso (17) and defensive specialist Kelli Kalinoski (13) all surpassed 10 digs.
“I’m really excited and pleased with the resilience of our team this weekend,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “It was a great opportunity to continue to grow together and get to know one another on the court. This past week, our team really committed themselves in practice and it showed this weekend.”
Lehigh struck first, winning the opening frame, 25-23. The Blue Devils led 20-18 after a block, but the Mountain Hawks closed the set on a 7-3 run.
Despite a late Duke rally, Lehigh’s eight-point second set lead proved too much to overcome and the Mountain Hawks won the frame, 25-22. The Blue Devils trailed 19-11 but pulled with a point after a Natalie Schilling and Summer Brown block made it 22-21. Lehigh was able to regroup and did not relinquish the lead.
Duke began the third with a large lead and fought off a Lehigh rally to win the set, 25-23. The Blue Devils saw their six-point advantage slim to a single point late but Schilling’s eighth kill sealed the set.
Duke then led the fourth set start to finish to force a final fifth frame. The Blue Devils bolted to a 15-7 advantage and never let Lehigh back into the stanza, winning it 25-19.
Lehigh and Duke split the fifth set’s first 10 points before a Schilling kill followed by a block gave the Blue Devils a two-point margin. Duke maintained a narrow lead down the stretch. Up 14-12, Schilling knocked down the clinching kill to complete Duke’s comeback.
Elattrache earned Fight in the Fort at TCU tournament MVP honors after totaling 59 digs over Duke’s three matches. Schwantz and Bates also earned spots on the all-tournament team.
Next up, Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a 6:30 p.m., opening serve against Coastal Carolina Friday, Sept. 15.