ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A back-and-forth match throughout, the Duke volleyball team came up just short in its bid to upset No. 22 Michigan as the Wolverines defeated the Blue Devils 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15, 13-15) in the final contest of the Coke/Michigan Invitational Saturday evening at Cliff Keen Arena.
Three Blue Devils reached double digit kill totals, led by sophomore outside hitter Jeme Obeime with 14, while freshman outside hitter Emily Sklar and sophomore setter Kelsey Williams both recorded double-doubles. Sklar knocked down 13 kills to along with 12 digs as Williams amassed 35 assists and 13 digs.
Junior middle blocker Chelsea Cook hit a team-high .409, registering 12 kills in addition to pacing the Blue Devils with seven blocks.
"We knew this would be a great weekend of competition," said head coach Jolene Nagel. "I feel our team gave great effort tonight and we grew as a team. Our block made it easier to dig balls, and that was huge. Our serve tonight was effective and strong. This team has made great strides this preseason and we are looking forward to beginning conference play next weekend."
Facing its first five-set match of the season, Duke (9-3, 0-0 ACC) went ahead 6-4 in the final game after consecutive kills from Obeime and senior Christiana Gray, who earned all-tournament team honors following the match. Michigan (12-2, 0-0 Big 10) tied the score at 10-10 before Duke again pulled ahead by two, this time on a kill by Cook followed by a Wolverine attack error.
However, Michigan came out strong after its second timeout of the set, winning the next four points to take a 14-12 lead. A service error by the Wolverines brought Duke within one, but the Blue Devils were unable to tie the score as Lexi Erwin registered the game-winning kill.
Erwin would pace Michigan with a match-high 18 kills on 53 attacks. Kelly Murphy (14 kills, 14 digs) and Molly Toon (10 kills, 10 digs) each picked up double-doubles for the Wolverines.
Down 2-1, Duke forced the fifth set with a dominating, 25-15 performance in the fourth set. The Blue Devils hit .400 as a team while limiting Michigan to .100 hitting. Cook knocked down a team-high five kills in the frame, followed closely by Obeime and Sklar with four each.
Michigan won the first set 25-22, hitting .345 as a team. The Wolverines looked to take a 2-0 overall advantage after building an early lead in the second set, but Duke battled back to go ahead 19-17 following an Obeime kill and Michigan attack error. The Blue Devils maintained their lead and finished off the set with another Obeime kill. The Wolverines responded with a 25-20 victory in the third set to take a 2-1 advantage overall.
Duke opens ACC play Friday, September 21, traveling to N.C. State for a 7 p.m. match.
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