DURHAM, N.C. - Duke volleyball continued its ascent to the highest ranks of college volleyball in 2010 and capped a championship season with the most successful NCAA Tournament run in school history. The Blue Devils built on the previous season’s momentum by winning the 2010 ACC Volleyball Championship and breaking through to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second time in school history.
Led by a balanced group of seven starters, the Blue Devils went 27-7 overall and 16-4 in the ACC on the way to the No. 18 national ranking in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Led by ACC Player of the Year and ACC and East Region Coach of the Year Jolene Nagel, Duke took down three opponents in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the NCAA Regional Final where they fell to eventual NCAA Champion Penn State 3-1.
Duke placed a school-record five players on the All-ACC Volleyball Team and captured the program’s 11th ACC Regular Season Championship. The conference crown gave the Blue Devils their sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament where the Blue Devils made the most of their opportunity and played in front of a national stage on ESPNU in the NCAA Regional Final.
Duke Advances to NCAA Elite Eight
The 2010 Blue Devils went further in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament than any other team in Duke history, reaching the Round-of-Eight Regional Final. Duke defeated High Point 3-0 in the first round, Ohio 3-2 in round two and Missouri 3-1 in the Sweet 16 to become only the third team in ACC history to reach the NCAA Regional Final. The No. 12 overall seed, Duke would fall 3-1 to eventual NCAA Champion Penn State in University Park, Pa., but earned the distinction as the only team in the entire NCAA Tournament to win a game against the four-time defending National Champion Nittany Lions.
Catanach & Dunworth Named to NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team
Kellie Catanach and Sophia Dunworth were both named to the University Park, Pa., NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team after leading Duke to the NCAA Regional Final against Penn State. Dunworth led Duke in kills for the entire NCAA Tournament while Catanach averaged 10.31 assists, 0.81 kills, 2.06 digs and 0.69 blocks in Duke’s four postseason matches.
Blue Devils Win ACC Crown
Duke won the 2010 ACC Volleyball Championship with a 16-4 conference record, giving the program three ACC Championships in the past five seasons. Duke has gone 88-16 (.846) in conference play during that span. Under head coach Jolene Nagel, Duke has a 160-62 (.721) ACC record, which is the best mark in the ACC since she took the helm in 1999.
Catanach Named ACC Player of the Year
Duke junior Kellie Catanach was named the top player in the ACC after pulling in Duke’s conference-leading seventh ACC Player of the Year award. A 6-2 setter, Catanach led the ACC with 1,419 assists and directed a Duke offense that ranked among the top 30 nationally in kills per set and assists per set. Catanach was also one of Duke’s top defenders, leading the team with 12 double-doubles while averaging 2.13 digs and 0.60 blocks per set. Additionally, she led the team with 29 service aces and will enter her senior season ranked third all-time at Duke with 4,104 career assists.
Five Blue Devils Named All-ACC
A school-record five Duke players were selected to the All-ACC team, as selected by the league’s coaches. Led by ACC Player of the Year Kellie Catanach, five of Duke’s seven starters made the team including senior middle blocker Becci Burling, sophomore middle blocker Christiana Gray, junior right side hitter Amanda Robertson and freshman libero Ali McCurdy. McCurdy was also named to the ACC All-Freshman team after starting all 34 of Duke’s matches at libero.
Nagel Named ACC and East Region Coach of Year
Duke head coach Jolene Nagel was honored as the ACC Coach of the Year and the East Region Coach of the Year awards, marking the third time she has received those honors during her 12-year tenure. Nagel led Duke to its first NCAA Regional Final appearance while capturing the program’s third ACC Championship in the past five seasons. In leading Duke to a 27-7 record, Nagel has guided the program to a school-record five consecutive 25-win seasons.
Four Blue Devils Earn All-East Region Honors
Along with Nagel’s Region Coach of the Year honor, four Duke players – Becci Burling, Kellie Catanach, Christiana Gray and Amanda Robertson – earned All-East Region awards. The four selections were the most in school history, and Duke was one of only two teams to place four players on a regional squad.
Blue Devils Earn NCAA Tournament Bid for Sixth Straight Season
Duke earned the ACC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Volleyball Championship after winning the conference outright, giving the Blue Devils an ACC-record tying six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The Blue Devils have made the tournament every year since 2005 and an ACC-leading 16 times overall. After moving on all the way to the Elite Eight in 2010, Duke has advanced into at least the second round in five of the last six seasons.
Duke Records Fifth Straight 25-Win Season
With a 3-0 sweep of High Point in the NCAA First Round, Duke recorded its school-record fifth consecutive 25-win season. Duke’s five-year run is the longest in school history and the second longest streak in ACC history behind Georgia Tech’s six-year from run 1991-95. The Blue Devils have the longest active 25-win streak in the conference and have won 25 matches 10 times, including five years under head coach Jolene Nagel.
Home Court Advantage
Cameron Indoor Stadium proved yet again to be one of the toughest volleyball venues on the east coast as Duke put together a 15-1 record on its home court. Duke ended the season on a 10-match home-court win streak that included back-to-back NCAA Tournament wins over High Point (3-0) and Ohio (3-2). Duke’s only loss on Coach K Court in 2010 was to 12th-ranked Minnesota. The Blue Devils have been one of the best home-court teams in the nation over the past decade, posting a 129-22 (.854) record in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 2000.
Duke once again finished the season as one of the ACC’s top defensive teams, holding opponents to a .172 hitting percentage. The Blue Devils allowed only two teams to hit over .300 against them while holding offensive juggernaut Penn State to a .272 clip in the NCAA Regional Final. Led by the blocking of middle blockers Becci Burling and Christiana Gray and the floor defense of freshman libero Ali McCurdy, senior Claire Smalzer and sophomore Nailah Waterfield, the Blue Devils held 23 of their 34 opponents to a sub-.200 hitting percentage.
Dunworth & Gray Tabbed Academic All-Dist.
Junior outside hitter Sophia Dunworth and sophomore middle blocker Christiana Gray were both named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III Team. Dunworth was named to the first team after posting a 3.88 GPA as a Biology major while Gray appeared on the second team with a 3.64 GPA. She is also Duke’s top blocker with 116 stops. Duke has now placed at least two players on the Academic All-District III Team for five consecutive seasons.
ACC Players of the Week
Duke had an ACC-leading four players selected as ACC Player of the Week in 2010. Junior right-side hitter Amanda Robertson was picked a conference-best three times with selections on Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Nov. 1 while junior setter Kellie Catanach was selected on Nov. 8.
Senior Class Goes Out on Top
Duke’s senior trio of Becci Burling, Claire Smalzer and Alex Sall ended their careers with a 104-29 (.782) record, two ACC Championships and four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. They are only the second class in school history to post 25 wins every year and only the fourth to move on to the NCAA Postseason every year.
Smalzer Climbs All-Time Digs Chart
Senior Claire Smalzer, who switched from libero to outside hitter as a senior, finished her four-year career ranked third all-time at Duke with 1,637 digs. Smalzer trailed only Duke greats Jenny Shull (2,200 digs from 2004-07) and Ashley Wacholder (1,818 digs from 1991-94) on the list.
Burling Gets 1,000th Career Kill
Senior middle blocker and co-captain Becci Burling recorded her 1,000th career kill in 2010, becoming only the 19th player in school history to reach that mark. Burling finished her career ranked 14th all-time at Duke with 1,157 career kills and is only the ninth player in Duke history to post 300 kills in three different seasons.
Gray Leads ACC in Hitting Percentage
All-ACC sophomore Christiana Gray improved on an impressive freshman season with a second-year campaign that saw her lead the ACC with a .387 hitting percentage. A 6-5 middle blocker, Gray was Duke’s most efficient attacker with 280 kills and only 78 errors on 535 attacks. Her .387 clip in 2010 ranks seventh on Duke’s single-season list.
Robertson Breaks Out
Junior Amanda Robertson had a breakout season in 2010, emerging as one of Duke’s top attackers and one of the ACC’s best all-around players. The All-ACC and All-East Region right side hitter ranked ninth in the ACC with a .321 hitting percentage and among Duke’s top four with 350 kills, 304 digs and 62 blocks. She was named ACC Player of the Week three times and posted nine double-doubles.
Freshman Ali McCurdy won the starting libero job in the preseason and emerged as one of the ACC’s best in her first year. The Tampa, Fla., ranked third in the ACC with 4.88 digs per set and was a key component of a Duke defense that holds the opposition to a .172 hitting percentage. An All-ACC selection, McCurdy posted the fifth-most digs in a single season in Duke history in her first year. She reached 30 digs twice in 2010.