DURHAM, N.C. – Behind a season-high 22.5 blocks, Duke downed NC State 3-2 (24-26, 25-14, 25-15, 24-26, 15-8) Wednesday afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Anna Kropf totaled a career-high 14 blocks to lead the Blue Devils (18-12, 10-9 ACC) at the net. With her performance Wednesday, Kropf became the third Blue Devil in program history with 14 or more blocks in a match, joining Jourdan Norman (15 vs. Virginia in 2005) and Kristen Campbell (14 vs. Texas A&M in 1995).
“Our pins set the block up well and that certainly helps,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “But those middles have to work their tails off out there to go this long a match. The fact they worked so hard to get over the net and stay disciplined with it … just really excited they could have that kind of success on the block today.”
Duke’s stout play at the net allowed the Blue Devils to pick up 95 digs as well. Nicole Elattrache led all players with 28 digs, while Cadie Bates had 22 and Kelli Kalinoski added 15. As a unit, Duke’s defense permitted NC State to hit above .200 in just one of the day’s five frames.
The Blue Devils’ pin hitters accounted for 54 of Duke’s 63 kills as all four reached double-digit kills. Setters Emma Paradiso and Sarah Nelson combined for 50 assists while running Duke’s 6-2 system.
In addition to her 22-dig performance, Bates knocked down 14 kills to register her 16th double-double of the season. For the season, Bates has 362 kills and 372 digs. She is the first Blue Devil to accumulate 350-plus kills and 350-plus digs in the same season since Rachael Moss in 2008.
Payton Schwantz added 14 kills of her own, good for her 22nd match of the season with 10 or more kills. Amos added 14 kills and Bartholomew contributed 12 to aid the Blue Devil cause.
“This team continues to work hard and I credit our seniors with that,” Nagel said. “They work so hard and that keeps the others working hard. It’s allowed us to get better and one of the areas we’ve improved is our offense. To have our four pins in double digits definitely speaks to the fact that our setters made good choices and moved the ball around. It’s just a great team effort.”
The Wolfpack scored the final four points of the first set to win it, 26-24.
Duke would dominate the next two frames, limiting NC State to a -.052 combined hitting percentage in the second and third. As a result, the Blue Devils captured the second, 25-14, and the third, 25-15.
NC State regrouped in the fourth, battling back from a 21-18 deficit late to force a fifth set.
Despite the fourth-set’s disappoint end, Duke bounced back and led NC State, 8-6, by the fifth’s midway point. Up a lone point, Summer Brown registered a kill before Bartholomew and Kropf teamed up on two blocks over the next three points to break the set open. The Wolfpack could not recover and Duke fittingly ended the match with a final block.
“I’m just really proud of our team and the effort they gave today both mentally and physically,” Nagel added. “NC State has had a great year and they’re a good team. They’re a good blocking team and their offense is strong. Proud of our team for battling today. We executed how we wanted to execute. We served well. We stayed steady in serve receive and we were ready to play solid defense.”
Duke concludes the 2017 regular season Friday, Nov. 24 at 6:30 p.m., against North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium.