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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Duke Travels to Fight in the Fort at TCU
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 09/06/2017
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DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke heads to Fort Worth, Texas for three matches this weekend as part of the Fight in the Fort at TCU tournament at the Horned Frogs’ University Recreation Center. The Blue Devils take on host TCU Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. (EDT) followed by matches against Utah Valley at 12 p.m. (EDT) and Lehigh at 5 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, Sept. 9.

Duke and TCU meet for the second time in program history Friday. The Horned Frogs won the schools’ inaugural meeting, 3-2, Sept. 2, 2016 in Durham, N.C. The Blue Devils won the first two sets before TCU pulled out the five-set victory, led by a 16-kill, 36-dig performance from then-senior Sarita Mikals.

Utah Valley
Saturday’s match marks the first between Duke and Utah Valley. Utah Valley is the second Western Athletic Conference team the Blue Devils face in program history. Duke defeated UMKC, 3-0, Sept. 4, 2015 in Lawrence, Kan. 

The Blue Devils’ final match pits Duke against another unknown opponent in Lehigh. Duke owns a 7-2 all-time record against teams currently in the Patriot League (American 3-2, Army West Point 0-0, Boston University 0-0, Bucknell 0-0, Colgate 0-0, Holy Cross 0-0, Lafayette 0-0, Lehigh 0-0, Loyola 2-0 and Navy 0-0).

Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz continued the strong start to her collegiate career, earning 2017 Duke Invitational All-Tournamant Team honors this past weekend. Over Duke’s three matches, Schwantz led the Blue Devils with 31 kills, averaging 3.10 kills per set while hitting .256 for the tournament. Schwantz notched her first career double-double Friday morning against UNCW. The rookie from Frisco, Texas totaled 11 kills and 12 digs to help the Blue Devils sweep the Seahawks. She then added seven kills and a service ace in the nightcap versus Northwestern. Schwantz ended the weekend with a 13-kill performance against South Carolina to notch her fourth match of the young season with 10-plus kills. 

Junior middle blocker Leah Meyer earned 2017 Preseason All-ACC recognition after leading the 2016 Blue Devils with 139 blocks and ranking second on the team with 316 kills. Meyer garnered AVCA All-East Coast Region and First Team All-ACC accolades for her sophomore season performance. Meyer ranked sixth in the ACC and 35th nationally with a 1.31 blocks-per-set average. Her 139 total blocks were also the most by a Blue Devil since Chelsea Cook in 2012. She posted at least four blocks in 18 matches, including her first career double-double Sept. 24 at Virginia. Meyer totaled 12 kills and 11 blocks at UVA to record the first double-double for a Duke middle blocker since Christian Gray in 2012. On offense, Meyer ranked second on the team in kills and ranked eighth in the ACC in hitting percentage. For her career, Meyer has averaged 1.18 blocks per set, good for fourth all-time at Duke.

Outside hitter Cadie Bates has enjoyed a strong start to her senior campaign. Through Duke’s first six matches, Bates leads the Blue Devils with 73 kills, averaging 3.17 per set. Bates has also recorded three double-doubles early in the season. She totaled a career-best 20 kills to go along with 10 digs in the season opener at Colorado State before turning in a 10-kill, 18-dig performance versus UCF and a 13-kill, 11-dig outing against UNCW. 

Head coach Jolene Nagel and her staff added four players to the 2017 roster in freshman middle blocker Summer Brown (Morrow, Ga.), freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz (Frisco, Texas), junior setter Haley Seyfarth (Bentonville, Ark.) and freshman defensive specialist Kincey Smith (Wake Forest, N.C.). Brown was named the 2016 GHSA AAA Player of the Year after totaling 206 kills, 78 blocks and 24 aces as a senior. Schwantz collected MVP and all-tournament honors at the 2016 USA Volleyball National Championships, helping her TAV 17 Black club squad to the gold medal in the 17 Open division. Seyfarth joins the Blue Devils following an extremely successful career at Palm Beach State College that culminated with 2016 NJCAA First Team All-America honors. Lastly, Smith was a four-time all-conference selection and 2015 conference player of the year, leading North Raleigh Christian Academy to back-to-back state championships while also garnering all-state and All-Metro accolades.

With a 599-337 career record, head coach Jolene Nagel is one win shy of 600 victories for her career. Nagel is in her 19th season at the helm of the Duke volleyball program after joining the Blue Devil staff in 1999. She recorded her 500th career win Sept. 8, 2012 with Duke’s four-set win over Northeastern. In addition, Nagel owns a 396-197 at Duke and an ACC record of 240-100.

The 2016 Blue Devils (21-9, 15-5 ACC) surpassed 20 wins for the 27th time in the program’s 46-year history. Duke has topped 20 wins in 10 of the past 12 seasons. In 18 campaigns under head coach Jolene Nagel, the Blue Devils won 20 or more matches 14 times. In addition, Duke finished the 2016 season tied for third in the ACC standings. One of the most consistent ACC programs, the Blue Devils finished in the top three in the league standings in 13 of the past 16 seasons.

Once again, the Blue Devils compete with the best in college volleyball. Nearly half of Duke’s 2017 opponents finished the season with 20 or more wins a year ago. In addition, the Blue Devils face six NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in Colorado State, TCU, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina, Florida State and Pittsburgh. Duke faces 11 opponents from 11 different conferences before delving into ACC play the third weekend in September.


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