DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke volleyball team closed out its opening weekend on a high note, sweeping the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee 3-0 (25-21, 25-11, 25-23) in the final game of the Duke Invitational Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Against UW-Milwaukee, freshman Emily Sklar (San Jose, Calif.) led the Blue Devils with 13 kills, while junior Chelsea Cook (Overland Park, Kan.) posted nine on .600 hitting. Sophomore Jeme Obeime (Carmel, Ind.) posted nine kills and freshman Elizabeth Campbell (Parker, Colo.) chipped in with seven. For the weekend, Sklar totaled a team-high 33 kills along with 28 digs and Cook totaled 25 kills on .429 hitting to go along with 13 blocks.
"This weekend was a good chance to see our team in competition against someone other than themselves," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "There were three good opponents here and we were able to see some different styles as well. It was a real test for our young team. I think we responded positively and hopefully we can build from here."
Duke hit .288 against the Panthers, while the Blue Devils' defense posted 12 total blocks and 48 digs to hold UWM to .049 hitting. Junior Ali McCurdy (Tampa, Fla.) continued her standout play with 15 digs to bring her team-leading total to 52 for the season. Senior Christiana Gray (Carmel, Ind.) recorded a team best seven blocks, followed by Campbell and sophomore Brittney Balser (Grafton, Ohio) with five each.
"This team has wanted to make blocking a priority," added Nagel. "They have been talking about it and working at it. The second match was better than the first, and tonight was even better. We need to continue to work on it because this team wants to be a good blocking team."
Duke built an eight-point lead midway through the first set, but the Panthers slowly chipped away to trim that margin to 24-21. The Blue Devils responded and put the set away following a kill by Obeime, who totaled a team-high five in the opening set.
The Blue Devil defense put together one of its strongest showings of the weekend in the second set, limiting Milwaukee to -.059 hitting. Duke posted four total blocks in the set, while Sklar recorded a team-high seven kills.
The two teams traded points to start off the third set, however the Blue Devils found themselves down by as many as four midway through the set. Duke maintained its composure and tied the game at 21-all following back-to-back kills from Campbell. The Blue Devils were able to take a 24-23 lead before a Panther attack error sealed the victory for Duke.
"I think we had a good opening weekend" said Cook. "We are all just getting used to each other and working out our kinks. We have a lot of new players on the court and underclassmen, so it's a good feeling to go 3-0 on your home court."
Cook, McCurdy and Sklar earned all-tournament team accolades after guiding the Blue Devils to three, 3-0 wins for the weekend. Caitlin Stapleton from Fairfield, Shaylin O'Connell from William & Mary and Kayla Price and Rachel Neuberger also garnered all-tournament honors.
The Blue Devils travel to Louisville, Ky., next weekend for the Louisville Invitational. Duke faces the Cardinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 31 to open the tournament. The Blue Devils take on both Samford and Marshall on day two of the tournament with match times set for 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively, September 1.
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