DURHAM, N.C. - With the non-conference portion of its schedule now complete, the Duke volleyball team turns its attention to league play as the Blue Devils open the ACC schedule this weekend with in-state rivals NC State and North Carolina. Duke first travels to NC State Friday, September 21 to take on the Wolfpack at 7 p.m. in Reynolds Coliseum. The Blue Devils close out the weekend Sunday, September 23 against the Tar Heels at 2 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.
The Blue Devils take a 9-3 overall record into Raleigh Friday after posting a 1-2 mark at the Coke/Michigan Invitational a week ago. Duke fell, 3-1, to a tough Western Kentucky squad which jumped into the AVCA Coaches Poll this week after winning the Coke/Michigan Invitational. The Blue Devils responded with a 3-1 victory over Eastern Michigan Friday night before taking No. 22 Michigan to the wire in a five-set battle Saturday evening. Senior middle blocker Christiana Gray garnered all-tournament team honors, totaling 27 kills and 13 blocks in Ann Arbor.
For the season, freshman Emily Sklar and sophomore Jeme Obeime have been Duke's top targets on offense. Sklar has knocked down a team-leading 144 kills while Obeime has amassed 122 as both outside hitters average over three kills per set.
Sophomore Kelsey Williams has shouldered more of the setting responsibilities as of late, recording four consecutive double-doubles. On defense, junior libero Ali McCurdy sits atop the ACC standings in digs per set, averaging 5.52.
NC State holds the best record in the ACC so far this season with a 12-1 (2-0 ACC) mark after the Wolfpack topped Wake Forest, 3-0, Wednesday. NC State boasts four players with 100 or more kills on the season lead by Nikki Glass (113), who also owns an ACC-best 24 service aces, and Dariyan Hopper (137).
Friday's contest marks the 88th meeting between NC State and Duke with the Blue Devils owning a 59-28 overall advantage. The Blue Devils are currently in the midst of a 21-match winning streak versus the Wolfpack with their last loss to NC State coming in October of 2000.
North Carolina, currently 9-2 overall, faces Wake Forest Friday evening before playing the Blue Devils Sunday. The Tar Heels lead the ACC, holding opponents to a .151 hitting percentage for the season. Paige Neuenfeldt (1.41 bps), Chaniel Nelson (1.17 bps) and Tia Gaffen (1.08 bps) all rank in the top-10 in the conference in blocks per set.
The Tar Heels and the Blue Devils meet for the 101st time in program history Sunday. North Carolina holds a 51-49 advantage in the all-time series, but Duke has won four straight against the Tar Heels and eight of the teams' past 10 meetings.
Following this weekend's action, Duke travels to Florida for matches against Miami and Florida State. The Blue Devils and the Hurricanes square off Friday, September 28 in Coral Gable, Fla., before Duke and FSU meet Sunday, September 30 in Tallahassee, Fla.