LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Tied 1-1 following the second set, the Duke volleyball team responded with a 5-0 lead to start the third and never looked back, dropping Samford 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-10) to start the second day of the Cardinal Invitational at the KFC Yum! Center.
Three Blue Devils registered double digit kills for the match, led by freshman Emily Sklar with 19. Sophomore Jeme Obeime added 11 kills on 19 attacks, while senior Christiana Gray hit .737 with 14 kills and four blocks. On offense, Duke (4-1, 0-0 ACC) hit .367 for the match, and the Blue Devil defense, which totaled 49 digs and six total blocks, limited Samford (1-4, 0-0 SoCon) to .216 hitting.
"Our team was able to minimize errors and take advantage of its opportunities today," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "We controlled the ball when we had the chance, we were stronger on our block and we really worked hard on defense. It was exciting to see that kind of effort following our match last night."
Junior libero Ali McCurdy paced the defense with 23 digs, her third match this season with 15 or more digs. Sophomore setter Maggie Deichmeister also turned in a strong performance with a career-best 27 assists, while classmate Kelsey Williams chipped in with 17 assists.
Duke and Samford traded points to open the first set before the Blue Devils opened a six-point lead following an Elizabeth Campbell kill. The Bulldogs clawed their way back, and forced a Duke timeout after an Elizabeth Neisler kill cut the Blue Devils' lead to 21-19. Duke finished the set strong with four different Blue Devils registering kills to give Duke a 1-0 advantage.
Samford maintained a narrow lead throughout the majority of the second set and pulled ahead 23-21 late in the game. Duke pulled within one, but could not overcome the Bulldogs' lead as Samford took the second set 25-23.
Duke came out firing on all cylinders in the third set, building a 7-1 lead early. The Blue Devils maintained a comfortable margin and utilized a 25-20 victory to go ahead 2-1 in the match. Obeime and junior Chelsea Cook led Duke with four kills each in the set.
The Blue Devils carried their momentum into the fourth and final game, once again jumping out to an early lead. Duke's defense put together a strong performance, limiting Samford to -.160 hitting to clinch the match.
Duke wraps up the weekend with its final match of the Cardinal Classic this evening. The Blue Devils face Marshall at 5 p.m., before returning home for the Duke Classic next weekend.