RALEIGH, N.C. – Middle blockers Leah Meyer and Jordan Tucker combined for 33 kills but Duke was unable to slow NC State, suffering a 3-1 (23-25, 16-25, 25-20, 21-25) setback at Reynolds Coliseum in the 2016 regular season finale.
Duke (21-9, 15-5 ACC) had allowed just one opponent to hit over .300 all year before NC State (20-12, 13-7 ACC) posted a .305 clip Saturday. NCSU outside hitter Julia Brown led all players with 24 kills. She was one of four Wolfpack players in double-digit kills on the day as NC State totaled 69 kills to Duke’s 55.
For the fifth straight match, Duke received double-digit kills from both Meyer and Tucker. The duo also combined for a .484 hitting percentage, committing just three errors on 62 swings between them.
In addition, Tucker recorded three blocks to become the ninth player in Duke history with 400 career blocks. For her career, Tucker has 1,186 kills while hitting over .300 to go along with 401 blocks. She is one of six Blue Devils to top 1,000 kills and 400 blocks while hitting better than .300 for a career.
After allowing NC State to post a hitting percentage above .400 in each of first two frames, Duke’s defense buckled down in the third and fourth, limiting the Wolfpack to .133 and .231 clips, respectively. Led by six Meyer stops, the Blue Devils outblocked NC State, 10.5-8.0, and outdug the Wolfpack, 68-63, but could not overcome the early two-set deficit.
Senior libero Sasha Karelov picked up a team-high 19 digs to anchor the Duke back row.
“NC State played smart volleyball and great defense,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “I was pleased to see us make adjustments after the second set and we had different people rise to the occasion to help us get that third set.”
NC State rallied late to win the first, 25-23. Duke led 20-18 heading down the stretch before the Wolfpack countered with a 7-3 rally. NCSU put down 19 kills on .444 hitting, led by Teni Sopitan’s five. Tied 23-23, NC State received back-to-back kills from Sarah Konchan and Sopitan to win the set.
The Wolfpack offense continued to roll, winning the second 25-16 while posting a .500 hitting percentage with 20 kills. The Blue Devils entered the match averaging 18.40 digs per set, but picked up 22 combined in the first two frames.
NC State surged to an early 12-8 third set advantage before Duke embarked on an 8-2 stretch. The Wolfpack tied the score at 16-all prior to duke once again regaining the lead. Back-to-back Duke blocks established a 21-18 margin. Up 23-19, Duke then received kills from Meyer and Schilling to win the stanza, 25-20. After allowing NCSU to hit .400 or better in each of the first two sets, Duke limited the Wolfpack to a .133 clip in the third.
The Wolfpack built a six-point margin, 20-14, midway through the fourth. Back-to-back Tucker kills narrowed the deficit, 21-19. A Duke service error couple with a kill and NC State ace brought about match point. The Blue Devils fought off two match points before a Jessica Kemp kill finally clinched the Wolfpack victory.