DURHAM, N.C. - Head coach Jolene Nagel earned her 500th career victory and the Duke volleyball team came from behind in an exciting third set to secure a 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 26-24, 25-14) victory over Northeastern in front of 2,715 fans Saturday evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
With the victory, Nagel joins a list of just three active ACC coaches with 500 or more career wins. The three-time ACC Coach of the Year owns a 500-262 record for her career, which also includes stints at Georgetown and Cornell.
"We had no idea, and that's so coach," said sophomore Kelsey Williams. "I don't even think she knew. We were playing it like it was just any other match, and I think that is just symbolic of how she is because every match is worth the same in her mind."
Three Blue Devils reached double digit kill totals in the final match of the weekend, led by freshman Emily Sklar with 16. Sophomore Jeme Obeime, who led Duke with 32 kills for the weekend, amassed 14 on .379 hitting to lead Duke against Northeastern. In addition, sophomore Kelsey Williams posted her first career double-double with 44 assists and 12 digs and freshman Elizabeth Campbell added 11 kills, her second straight match with 10 or more kills.
On defense, junior Ali McCurdy led four Blue Devils in double-digit dig totals with 25, while Duke posted 10 team blocks to limit Northeastern to .104 hitting. The Huskies posted a .355 hitting percentage in the opening set, but the Blue Devils did not allow Northeastern to hit above .100 in the final three games.
"Our combination of blocks on defense and having so many people in double-digit kills is very exciting," said Nagel. "Great defensive effort tonight. Great effort after losing the first set, believing in themselves and working out there together like they had to do. We put them in some different situations and they fought hard. I was really proud of that. Northeastern is a good team and I think they are going to have a great year."
Northeastern received a team-high 12 kills from junior outside hitter Kelly Bacon, while sophomore setter/outside hitter Jillian Briner added 11 kills and 17 assists.
A slow start for the Blue Devils in the first set ultimately led to a 1-0 advantage in favor of the Huskies, who held Duke to .162 hitting in the opening set. Duke bounced back in the second game and utilized seven kills from Sklar to tie the match at 1-1.
With the momentum on its side, Duke looked to take control of the match in the third set. However, it would be Northeastern who staked a four-point lead midway through the game. Trailing 16-12, the Blue Devils would come back to tie the score at 20, taking advantage of three kills from Obeime in that span. Duke knotted the score at 20-all following a long rally, which ended with a decisive Sklar kill and a Northeastern timeout.
The two teams found themselves tied again, this time at 24-24. Campbell knocked down a kill to make it 25-24, and a Husky attack error ensured Duke the 2-1 overall lead.
Momentum swung definitively in Duke's favor for the fourth set as the Blue Devils bolted out to a 14-9 lead at the midway point. Duke maintained its comfortable lead the rest of the way and finished off the match with a block from Campbell and Cook, who both finished with five for the match.
The Blue Devils travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., this coming weekend for the Coke/Michigan Invitational. Duke will face Western Kentucky and Eastern Michigan Friday, September 14 before taking on host-team Michigan Saturday, September 15.