DURHAM, N.C. - After four straight road matches to start the conference slate, the Duke volleyball team returned to Cameron Indoor Stadium with a 3-0 (25-13, 29-27, 25-23) victory over visiting Maryland Friday evening in the Blue Devils' ACC home opener.
With the win, Duke (10-7, 1-4 ACC) remained unbeaten in Cameron this year, picking up its seventh victory in as many matches at the Blue Devils' home venue.
"It's really heavenly [to be back home]," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "The last time we were here was around September 7 & 8 and it's great to be back here. I think the team enjoys this atmosphere so much better than our atmospheres on the road. I think that really helped us tonight and made a difference."
Duke utilized a balanced offensive effort to pick up its seventh sweep of the season as the Blue Devils hit .321 as a team. Sophomore outside hitter Jeme Obeime led the way with a team-high 12 kills on .440 hitting. Senior middle blocker Christiana Gray added eight kills on 13 attacks with just one error (.538), while freshman outside hitter Emily Sklar contributed nine kills.
Freshman Christina Vucich handled the setting responsibilities, dishing out 35 assists to go along with five kills and six digs, and fellow rookie Elizabeth Campbell chipped in with seven kills and eight digs. Junior libero Ali McCurdy, who finished with a match-high 15 digs, helped the Duke defense limit the Terps (10-7, 2-4 ACC) to .186 hitting.
Maryland had two players reach double-figure kills totals in Ashleigh Crutcher (16) and Adreene Elliott (12) as the Terp duo combined to hit .436. Remy McBain registered the only double-double on the day with 19 assists and 13 digs.
The Blue Devils stormed out of the gate to start the first set, hitting .483 as a team while limiting Maryland to a .081 hitting percentage. Gray knocked down six kills to pace Duke as the Blue Devils built a six-point margin by the midway point of the first game. Duke would win five of eight points following Maryland's second timeout, and closed out the set on a 4-0 run to go up 1-0 overall.
The second game proved to be a more tightly contested affair with Maryland taking an 11-5 lead early. Duke began to chip away at the deficit and pulled within one after back-to-back-to-back kills from Vucich, Obeime and junior middle blocker Chelsea Cook, who finished the evening with six kills, four digs and two blocks.
Despite tying the set at 20-all, the Blue Devils would find themselves trailing 24-22. A Maryland ball-handling error and Obeime kill evened the score at 24-24, but the two squads would trade points until reaching a 27-27 deadlock. Duke finished off the comeback with a kill from Campbell and block from Gray, taking the set 29-27 to gain a 2-0 advantage overall.
"I was really happy the way [the team] hung tough in set two," said Nagel. I wasn't too happy that we got behind, but I definitely was happy they came back in a real tight situation and pulled off the win because it was a really tight set. That really says a lot about our young team; they're understanding what it takes to get it done."
With a narrow, 16-15 lead in the third set, Maryland errors gave Duke the opportunity it needed to pull away, but the Terps would battle back to tie the game at 23-23. Duke responded with a kill from Obeime, who totaled four in the final stanza, and a Maryland error ultimately sealed the victory for the Blue Devils.
Duke will play host to Boston College Saturday, October 6 as the Blue Devils and the Eagles square off at 8 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium.