ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After claiming a hard-earned victory in the first set, the Duke volleyball team could not hold off a strong Western Kentucky squad, falling 3-1 (31-29, 23-25, 14-25, 19-25) in its first match of the Coke/Michigan Invitational at Cliff Keen Arena Friday afternoon.
Sophomore Jeme Obeime paced the Blue Devils (8-2, 0-0 ACC) with 16 kills and freshman Emily Sklar added 12 kills and 10 digs for her third double-double of the season. Senior Christiana Gray also reached double digits in kills with 10, but errors hampered Duke as the Blue Devils hit .171 for the match.
Sophomore setter Kelsey Williams picked up her second straight double-double, amassing 42 assists and 12 digs, while junior libero Ali McCurdy again led Duke in digs with 22, her fifth match with 20 or more digs this season. In addition, Duke's defense totaled 11.5 team blocks, led by Gray and junior Chelsea Cook with five each.
For the match, Western Kentucky hit .231, marking just the fourth time this season the Blue Devils have allowed an opponent to hit .200 or better. Jordyn Skinner led the way for the Hilltoppers with 15 kills and 11 digs. Heather Boyan added 12 kills and five blocks, while Haley Bodway also contributed 12 kills.
The two teams battled through an extended first set with Duke ultimately taking the opening frame 31-29. Neither team could establish a lead throughout the game as Duke and WKU found themselves tied at 25-all following a Cook kill.
Three times Duke faced set point and the Hilltoppers would fight to knot the score before Duke faced a 29-28 deficit. Gray responded with a kill to tie the game at 29 and a WKU attack error gave the one-point advantage to the Blue Devils. Obeime polished off the set with her fifth kill of the opening frame to give Duke a 1-0 lead.
The second set mimicked the first with the two teams trading points through the early going. A pair of Blue Devil errors gave Western Kentucky a three-point advantage, resulting in a Duke timeout. The Blue Devils were unable to trim the deficit the rest of the way and WKU picked up the 25-23 win.
The Hilltoppers opened the third set with a 6-2 run and would score seven straight at one point to take the game 25-14.
Now trailing 2-1, Duke found itself down by four before the Blue Devils clawed their way back to tie the game at 15-15. The Blue Devils would lead 18-16, but WKU scored nine of the final 10 points to secure the victory.
Duke faces its second opponent of the day tonight, squaring off with Eastern Michigan at 5:30 p.m.