PITTSBURGH – The 15th-ranked Duke volleyball team utilized a career performance from senior Chelsea Cook and double-doubles from Breanna Atkinson and Maggie Deichmeister to knock off a pesky Pittsburgh squad 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21) Sunday afternoon at Fitzgerald Field House. A 6-2 middle blocker, Cook hit a blistering .467 en route to a career-best 15 kills to go along with a career-high-tying eight blocks.
“[Chelsea has] been really consistent for us,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “She works really hard out there, and she’s tireless. She came up with some big kills when we needed them today, and she also had some big blocks. It’s exciting to see her with these kind of numbers because of everything she puts into it.”
Atkinson put down double-digit kills for the second consecutive match, adding 12 kills and 13 digs for her first double-double of the season, while Deichmeister contributed 42 assists and 10 digs to earn her team-leading seventh double-double of the 2013 campaign. In addition, senior libero Ali McCurdy picked up a season-high 29 digs to anchor a Duke defense which held the Panthers to a .182 hitting percentage.
Overall, Pittsburgh (13-14, 5-9 ACC) totaled 62 kills to 53 for the Blue Devils, but the Panthers registered almost twice as many attack errors for the match. Duke (22-3, 13-1 ACC) limited its attack miscues to 15, compared to 28 Panther errors, and came up with key points throughout to tough out the victory.
“We had to work really hard,” added Nagel. “We had to come from behind, but I liked the way we hung in there and kept fighting. [Pitt is] a good team. They put up a formidable block and they really work hard on defense, so you have to be smart when you play them. It was a battle out there today.”
Tied at 21-21 late in the opening frame, Duke captured four of the final five points to take the 1-0 advantage overall. Back-to-back kills from Cook and sophomore Elizabeth Campbell gave Duke a two-point cushion, and a Cook-Deichmeister block established set point. A Pitt service error ended the frame, a 25-22 victory for the Blue Devils. Atkinson and Cook paced the offense in set one, totaling four kills each.
The Panthers bolted out to a 7-1 lead to start the second frame and the early advantage proved too much to overcome for the Blue Devils. Duke cut the lead to a point twice, but Pitt had the answer on both occasions, ultimately capturing the stanza, 25-20.
Cook was outstanding in set three, recording seven kills and three blocks to help Duke rally from a seven-point deficit. Down 14-7, Duke dug deep and put together an 11-4 run to tie the game at 18-all. Cook was instrumental in the spurt, adding four kills and a block to help the Duke cause. Tied at 22-22, a Jordan Tucker kill gave Duke the advantage, and two Pitt attack errors sealed the third set victory.
A Cook solo block spurred a 4-0 Duke rally in the fourth game, putting Duke on top 18-15. The Blue Devils maintained the three –point edge the rest of the way and iced the win with an Atkinson kill.
Junior outside hitter Jessica Wynn led a trio of Panther players in double-digits kills, putting down a match-high 16. Fellow outside Monica Wignot was right behind with 15 kills while the Pitt senior also added 18 digs. Junior rightside Mechael Guess also topped the 10-kill plateau, chipping in 11.
Next up, Duke heads to Wake Forest Friday, Nov. 15 before returning to Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday, Nov. 16 to take on Georgia Tech.