DURHAM, N.C. – After a dominant defensive performance Friday against Clemson, Duke was unable to replicate its success, falling to Georgia Tech 3-1 (22-25, 24-26, 25-23, 20-25) Sunday afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Georgia Tech (13-8, 2-6 ACC) posted a .317 hitting percentage Sunday against Duke (9-8, 3-5 ACC), marking the third time this season the Blue Devils have allowed an opponent to hit .300 or better. Two days prior, the Blue Devils kept Clemson to a .031 clip, the lowest by a Duke foe this season.
“We had some good starts in a few of those sets,” said head coach Jolene Nagel, “but we didn’t do a good job mentally of sustaining the focus we need to finish when we had the lead. Georgia Tech played very, very well today. Their outside hitter were really good and their middles did a good job, too. We needed to be a little bit tougher on ourselves and sustain focus better.”
Freshman outside hitter Mikaila Dowd led all players with 20 kills to pace the Yellow Jackets, while fellow freshman Mariana Branbilla had 17 and sophomore Dominique Washington contributed 10.
For the Blue Devils, outside hitters Payton Schwantz and Ade Owokoniran combined for 35 kills and a .347 hitting percentage. Schwantz had a team-high 18 kills, good for ninth match of the year in double figures kills. Owokoniran added 17 kills on 36 attack attempts to hit a team-best .361.
Duke led by as many as four points in the first set and six in the second, but succumbed to late Georgia Tech rallies in both frames. The Yellow Jackets outscored the Blue Devils 8-2 to end the first and 14-5 down the stretch in the second to stake a 2-0 overall lead.
Duke countered with a 25-23 third-set decision. Tied 21-21, Duke received two Leah Meyer kills late to gain separation then wrapped up the win with a Owokoniran kill.
Duke fell victim to a Georgia Tech fourth-set rally and was unable to overcome a five-point deficit established during a Yellow Jackets’ run midway through the frame.
Duke next travels to Wake Forest Wednesday, October 17 for a 6:30 p.m., match against the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, N.C.