Duke notches NCAA win, to host American U in 2nd round Saturday
Duke took advantage of a fast start to take a four-set victory (25-14, 25-8, 23-25, 25-19) over College of Charleston in the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament at Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday.
The win earned Duke a second-round home match against American University, which beat Georgia in straight sets (25-21, 25-13, 25-11) in the first match of Friday’s doubleheader. The second-round game will be played at 6 p.m.
Duke appeared poised to match American’s sweep as the Blue Devils overwhelmed Charleston in the first two sets.
The Cougars led just once in the first two sets, by a 2-1 score in the first. Duke scored had runs of four and five straight points to go up by a 19-8 score. Charleston had 9 errors in the first set, led by Darcy Dorton’s four.
Things got even worse for Charleston in the second set. Duke scored the first nine points of the set behind the serving of Sasha Karelov, who had an ace near the end of the run. Karelov also served for Duke’s 7-0 run to close out the set.
“I was just trying to put pressure on them,” Karelov said, “but my team put up a good block, so I could keep getting the ball back and serve again and again and again.”
The 25-8 score was the most lopsided set in Duke NCAA Tournament history, topping a 30-14 margin over American in the first round of the 2005 tournament. It marked the first time Duke has held an opponent to single digits in a 25-point set since beating Virginia 25-9 on November 4, 2011 and was the most lopsided Duke set of any length since a 30-13 win over Wake Forest on September 18, 2007.
Charleston made 8 errors in the second set, and had 17 in the match at that point, compared to just four for Duke. The Cougars made errors on six of the last seven points in the second set.
“The numbers after two were just unbelievable,” Duke coach Jolene Nagel said. “These (final stats) are a little more reasonable.”
That’s because Charleston bounced back after a trip to the locker room and took a back-and-forth third set.
“It was hard for us to make adjustments, because we were playing so well,” Nagel said. “I don’t know what happened in the third set. Our communication broke down a little. (Charleston) changed some things on offense. We just stopped being the aggressor and were a little more on our heels.”
Charleston made just two errors in the third, while Duke had six.
“I think, in the third set, we didn’t bring the same intensity, while Charleston came out really strong,” ACC Defensive Player of the Year Ali McCurdy said. McCurdy had a game-high 23 digs.
Duke bounced back to wrap up the game in the fourth set. The Blue Devils won several long rallies to take a three-point lead midway through the set. Duke then scored the final seven points of the game to erase a 19-18 Charleston lead.
“In the first and second, Charleston just kind of collapsed,” Karelov said. “Then we had to fight. The rallies helped everyone stay confident and knowing that we can put the ball away. We can’t just let them make mistakes. We have to do it ourselves.”
Nagel was glad to see the team right the ship after losing the momentum. “The team’s been really good about being ready for each opponent and staying focused,” she said. “So they haven’t given me much practice on what just occurred (in the third set) to know what to do.”
“I think we got a little bit tense knowing we were down,” said Maggie Deichmeister. “Coach said to just relax. It was a little bit of a test, but we got our energy back.” Deichmeister had a game-high 41 assists and added 15 digs.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Nagel said of today’s second round match. “American is playing really well. They’re a big team, and they have a different style than we’re used to.”