LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In its first road test of the season, the Duke volleyball team struggled to find its rhythm, falling 3-0 (25-23, 25-12, 25-17) to 2011 BIG EAST regular season champion Louisville Friday evening at the KFC Yum! Center.
The two teams battled through a tight first set with Louisville (4-1, 0-0 BIG EAST) edging Duke (3-1, 0-0 ACC) in the end for a 1-0 lead, however unforced errors would plague the Blue Devils the final two sets. The Blue Devil offense was led by outside hitters Jeme Obeime and Emily Sklar with 10 kills each. Louisville's Lola Arslanbekova posted a match-high 19 kills and 12 digs to pace the Cardinals.
"We made minimal errors and did a good job of serving and passing in set one," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "However in game two we started to have unforced errors and we didn't give ourselves a chance to be successful."
Duke faced a three-point deficit early in the first set, but battled back to grab a 22-20 lead following a kill from Obeime. An Arslanbekova kill and Duke blocking error knotted the score at 22-all before two costly errors by the Blue Devils gave Louisville a 23-22 advantage. Obeime, who recorded seven kills on .455 hitting in the first set, responded with a kill following a Duke timeout to tie the game at 23. However, Louisville answered with back-to-back kills to take the first set 25-23.
The second and third sets would belong to the Cardinals as costly errors kept Duke from building momentum. For the match, Louisville hit .333, totaling 42 kills, 52 digs and six blocks, while Duke posted a .140 hitting percentage with 32 kills, 41 digs and four blocks.
"We have to minimize our errors," added Nagel. "We also need to improve our mental toughness. We have to be able to let go of our mistakes and move on to the next point. Hopefully we can learn from this and come back strong tomorrow."
Duke takes on two opponents on the second day of the Cardinal Classic, starting with Samford at 1:30 p.m. The Blue Devils wrap up the tournament with a 5 p.m., match against Marshall and will return home to host the Duke Classic Friday through Saturday, September 7-8.