STANFORD, Calif. – Duke could not shake off a slow start, falling to Loyola Marymount 3-0 (16-25, 22-25, 16-25) in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament Friday evening at Stanford University’s Maples Pavilion. Following the program’s 20th NCAA Tournament appearance, the Blue Devils concluded the season with a 16-12 overall record.
“Loyola Marymount did a great job serving the ball,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “They put pressure on us with their serve and it was difficult for us to get anything going offensively. LMU did a great job getting us out of system and taking us out of our game.”
Duke entered the match averaging 2.71 blocks per set, but Loyola Marymount was able to evade the Blue Devils at the net for most of the match. The Lions hit .301 as a team and totaled at least 14 kills in each frame.
The Blue Devils struggled to slow LMU hitter Sara Kovac, who led all players 22 kills. Kovac committed four attack errors on 35 attempts to post a .514 hitting percentage for the match. She accounted for almost half of LMU’s 47 kills in the match.
Duke could not get much going in the opening set, falling 25-16. The Blue Devils tallied nine kills and committed five attack errors, resulting in a .143 hitting percentage. In comparison, LMU landed 16 kills, led by Kovac’s seven, and hit .414. A 10-4 Lion span in the middle put the frame out of reach and a Blue Devil error ended the stanza.
The two teams proceeded to trade points throughout the second set before LMU pulled away 25-22 late. Leah Meyer registered a kill then a service ace to tie the frame, 22-22, but the Lions scored the next three points for the 2-0 overall lead.
LMU raced to a 10-6 third-set advantage and never allowed Duke to gain ground. Up 24-16, a block sealed the victory for the Lions.
With the win, LMU advanced to the second round to face the winner of the Friday night match between No. 1 seed Stanford and Alabama State.