DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke rebounded from a slow start to take down Wake Forest 3-1 (22-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-20) in the ACC opener for both teams Friday evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium. With the win, the Blue Devils begin the conference schedule 1-0 and improve to 9-3 overall while the Demon Deacons fell to 8-5 (0-1 ACC).
Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz continued her strong play, leading the Blue Devils with 14 kills while hitting an outstanding .462. Schwantz recorded 10-plus kills for the seventh straight match and currently leads Duke with 148 kills on the season.
Senior outside hitter Cadie Bates also had a solid showing for Duke. Bates knocked down 13 kills in addition to eight dis and three blocks. Sophomore rightside hitter Samantha Amos finished with nine kills as well.
After Wake Forest hit .294 in the opening set, Duke's defense locked up the Demon Deacons the rest of the way. The Blue Devils did not permit Wake Forest to hit above .200 in any of the final three stanzas. Senior middle blocker Anna Kropf led all players with six blocks while junior middle blocker Leah Meyer added five. Libero Nicole Elattrache paced the Duke back line with 13 digs.
"We were just not playing like ourselves at all [in the first set]," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "It was like we hadn't played much together at all. I was really, really excited to see how we calmed down in the second set. We started to execute a little bit more like ourselves. That's a good sign for us as we move on."
Duke responded with authority following a disappoint first set, taking the second 25-13. Schwantz and Bates had four kills apiece and the Blue Devils posted a .423 team hitting percentage to tie the overall score 1-1.
The Blue Devils strong play continued in the third, a 25-18 Duke victory. Schwantz totaled five kills in the frame and Duke built an early five-point lead to stake a 2-1 overall advantage.
Duke trailed by as many as five to start the fourth before rallying late to put away Wake Forest. Down 7-2, Duke tied the score at 16-all on a Wake Forest attack error. The Blue Devils closed out the match on a 9-4 run, including Schwantz' final kill to seal the victory.
"We were down by quite a bit in that fourth set," Nagel said. "And at that point, I'm not concentrating on the score. Just focusing on how we're going to get that next point. It says a lot about our team because we were down by quite a bit. [Wake Forest] was being very aggressive. We weren't able to put anything together pointswise. To have [our team] start serving aggressive at the end of that set and play solid defense and put up a solid block, that was tremendous for our team."
The Blue Devils return to action at 1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24 as Duke hosts Georgia Tech on ACC Network Extra.