CHARLESTON, S.C. – Duke fell to Michigan State 3-1 (20-25, 16-25, 27-25, 22-25) Friday evening to open the 2019 campaign at the College of Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C., at the TD Arena.
The Spartans tallied 51 kills on .204 hitting over four sets and limited the Blue Devils to a .147 hitting percentage.
“We did some really good things, but we could do a lot better on some different things,” head coach Jolene Nagel said. “We could have easily not come back after that second set and fought hard, but we did. I thought our team did a great job of coming back hard. We made some adjustments, were engaged and were able to get the third set. We had some opportunities in the fourth set as well. We made some unbelievable plays to stay in the fourth set, but we need to take care of some of the easier plays.”
Sophomore outside hitter Ade Owokoniran paced the Blue Devils offensively with 20 kills, her second career match with 20 kills, and two blocks in the 2019 opener, while junior Payton Schwantz added 13 and 18 digs. Graduate student Lauren Cline made her Duke debut with six blocks next to middle blocker Lily Cooper with seven. Libero Mackenzie Cole picked up 18 digs.
A back-and-fourth first set featured a couple scoring runs by the Spartans as the Blue Devils hit just .100. Michigan State jumped out to lead 17-7 in the second frame before Duke left a timeout hot to go on a 6-0 run with help from a couple big kills from Schwantz and Cooper but were unable to hold off a Spartan defense that had 16 blocks on the evening.
Owokoniran came out in the third set swinging and picked up nine kills to help lead the Blue Devils to a 27-25 victory to force a fourth set.
Trailing 22-18 in the fourth, Owokoniran tallied her 20th kill of the match before Cline and Cooper set up a big block to pull within two (23-21), forcing the Spartans to call a timeout. Duke was unable to close out the fourth after hitting just .087 percent.
“We played a lot of people in the match,” Nagel said. “We’re about the team and not about any individual, and I saw those efforts out there tonight. We had new kids out there and some kids that were older that might have not played as much last year that were really making some great contributions.”
Meredith Norris paced the Spartans with 22 kills and a .429 hitting percentage.
The Blue Devils will return to the court Saturday for a 4:30 p.m., match against No. 1 Stanford to close out the College of Charleston Classic.
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