MINNEAPOLIS – The Duke volleyball team began the Diet Coke Classic on a strong note, sweeping Western Illinois 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-17) Friday evening at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion. Sophomore setter Maggie Deichmeister posted a double-double with 23 assists and 11 digs, while junior Jeme Obeime and sophomore Elizabeth Campbell added a team-high 11 kills each.
Duke (3-1) had the more efficient offense on the night, totaling 52 kills on .330 hitting while limiting Western Illinois (2-3) to 30 kills on .148 hitting. Senior Chelsea Cook knocked down nine kills without committing an error and also added three blocks. Classmate Ali McCurdy anchored the Blue Devils’ defensive effort, contributing a season-high 16 digs.
“Our communication continues to go well,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “I thought we served better tonight. We got a few points off of our serve, which was good to see. We were able to dig more balls and score points in transition. Our team still has to work on limiting errors, but I thought we did a better job of that tonight.”
Freshman Jordan Tucker recorded five kills and a block to help Duke to the early 1-0 lead as the Blue Devils captured the opening frame, 25-17. Cook and Campbell were also solid in the set, combining for five kills and three blocks.
An early 10-7 lead in set two evaporated quickly following a Western Illinois rally. The Leathernecks eked ahead 16-15 before an Emily Sklar kill knotted the frame at 16-all. The two teams proceeded to trade points until another Sklar kill gave Duke the 22-21 advantage. Duke went on to win the remaining three points, clinching the frame 25-12 on a Cook kill.
Early errors led to a 5-0 Leatherneck lead in set three, but the Blue Devils rebounded following a timeout. A McCurdy service ace tied the stanza at 6-6, which remained tied at 10-10 before Duke pulled away with a 10-3 run. Up 20-13, the Blue Devils closed out the final set to earn their third victory of the young season.
Day two of the Diet Coke Classic begins Saturday at 12 p.m., as Duke takes on Ball State. The Blue Devils close out the weekend with a match against No. 4 Minnesota Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
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