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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Sarah Nelson
Duke Opens ACC Play vs. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 09/21/2017
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DURHAM, N.C. -- After 11 non-conference matches to start the 2017 slate, Duke begins ACC play this weekend with a pair of home matches in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke (8-3, 0-0 ACC) plays host to Wake Forest (8-4, 0-0 ACC) at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22 before taking the court opposite Georgia Tech (5-6, 0-0 ACC) at 1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24.

Admission to both matches is free to all fans, while ACC Network Extra will carry a live stream of both matches via and the ESPN app. 

Friday, Sept. 22 • 6:30 p.m. • ACC Network Extra
Cameron Indoor Stadium • Durham, N.C.

In a series that dates back to 1972, Duke leads Wake Forest 52-17. The Blue Devils have won eight straight over the Demon Deacons including both meetings this past season. Duke bested Wake Forest in four at home Sept. 21, 2016 then outlasted the Demon Deacons in five on the road Oct. 12, 2016. The Blue Devils have not lost to the Demon Deacons since dropping both ends of a home-and-home series in 2012. Friday’s contest is the first of two between Duke and Wake Forest this season. The two teams play again Nov. 8 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Sunday, Sept. 14 • 1:00 p.m. • ACC Network Extra
Cameron Indoor Stadium • Durham, N.C.

Since the teams’ first encounter in 1980, Duke has posted a 44-21 mark against Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils won 12 consecutive matches versus the Yellow Jackets until Georgia Tech defeated Duke the past two contests, a 3-0 decision on the road Nov. 6, 2015 and a four-set outcome Oct. 23, 2016 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. This season marks the first season Duke and Georgia Tech meet twice since 2013. The Blue Devils and the Yellow Jackets reconvene Oct. 27 in Atlanta. 

Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz has enjoyed a tremendous start to her collegiate career. The rookie from Frisco, Texas leads the Blue Devils in total kills (134) and kills per set (3.12) while hitting .263 on the year. Schwantz has recorded double-digit kills in nine of Duke’s 11 matches this season, including six straight entering the weekend. She was named ACC Freshman of the Week Sept. 11 after leading the Blue Devils to an undefeated weekend at the Fight in the Fort at TCU tournament and also earned all-tournament team honors for her efforts. Schwantz also picked up 2017 Duke Invitational All-Tournament accolades at the conclusion of the Blue Devils’ annual tournament.

After battling injuries throughout her career, senior outside hitter Cadie Bates has been a key contributor to the 2017 Blue Devils, playing all six rotations. Through 11 matches, Bates ranks second on the team with 123 kills, 26 shy of her career high (149) set in 2015. She totaled a career-best 20 kills in the season opener at Colorado State and is the only Blue Devil to reach 20 kills in a match this season. Bates has also been solid on defense and leads the Blue Devils with four double-doubles (Aug. 25 at Colorado State, Aug. 26 vs. UCF, Sept. 1 vs. UNCW and Sept. 9 vs. Utah Valley). She trails only libero Nicole Elattrache in total digs and digs per set this season.

Entering the weekend, Duke ranks second in the ACC in hitting percentage (.236), assists per set (12.67) and kills per set (13.49). In addition to outside hitters Payton Schwantz and Cadie Bates, Duke has also received strong efforts from sophomore hitters Natalie Schilling and Samantha Amos. Schilling currently leads the team with a .314 hitting percentage. She has knocked down 10 or more kills in three straight matches all while hitting .340 or better. Amos has four matches with 10-plus kills to her credit this season, including three of Duke’s past four contests.

ACC Hitting Percentage Leaders
1. NC State .267
2. Duke .236
3. Florida State .233
Pittsburgh .233
5. Virginia Tech .228
ACC Assists per Set Leaders
1. NC State 13.02
2. Duke 12.67
3. Miami 12.43
4. Florida State 12.28
5. Pittsburgh 12.03
ACC Kills per Set Leaders
1. NC State 14.02
2. Duke 13.49
3. Pittsburgh 13.20
4. Miami 13.13
5. Florida State 13.03

Senior Nicole Elattrache has assumed the starting libero role and leads the Blue Devils with 166 digs. Elattrache currently ranks seventh in the ACC, averaging 3.86 digs per set. She earned Fight in the Fort at TCU tournament MVP honors after totaling a career-high 29 digs in Duke’s win over Lehigh. For her career, Elattrache owns 853 digs and is 147 shy of becoming the 23rd Blue Devil in program history to reach 1,000 career digs. 

Head coach Jolene Nagel earned her 600th career victory in Duke’s straight-set victory over TCU Sept. 9 in Fort Worth, Texas. With the victory, Nagel became the 22nd active NCAA Division I head coach to reach 600 career wins and joined Florida State’s Chris Poole and North Carolina’s Joe Sagula as the only three ACC coaches to reach the milestone. For her coaching career, Nagel owns a 603-338 record with stints at Cornell, Georgetown and Duke. In her 19th season with the Blue Devils, Nagel owns a 400-198 record at Duke including a 240-100 mark in the ACC.

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.

Duke Blocks per Set (Career)
1. Jourdan Norman MB 2005-08 1.36
2. Jen Rohrig MB 1990-93 1.30
3. Krista Dill MB 2000-03 1.26
4. Leah Meyer MB 2015-16 1.18
5. Linda Kraft 1983-86 1.15
6. Adrian Nichol MB 1991-94 1.12
7. Rachel Vander Griend MB 1999-2002 1.09
8. Carrie DeMange MB 2004-07 1.03
Christiana Gray MB 2009-12 1.03
10. Sylvia Thomson MB 1986-89 1.00

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.