BLACKSBURG, Va. – Down 2-0 at Virginia Tech, Duke won the final three sets to stun the Hokies 3-2 (27-29, 19-25, 25-23, 25-15, 15-13) Sunday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum. Sophomore rightside hitter Samantha Amos led the way for Duke (13-8, 5-5 ACC), hitting .342 to total a career-high 18 kills.
Duke registered six of its seven service aces and 8.0 of its 11.0 blocks in the final three frames. Improved serving and better ball control allowed the Blue Devils to record 10 attack errors and post a .306 hitting percentage the last three sets after totaling 15 errors and hitting .197 the first two frames.
“Going into the third set, we made some adjustment which allowed us to have different matchups with our personnel,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “We also served better and did better on our serve receive. During the first two sets, we needed to handle the first ball better. We started to get more touches on balls on the block and that also helped a lot.”
Amos’ 18 kills led all players. Fellow rightside hitter Jessi Bartholomew followed her 12-kill performance Friday with 13 kills on .333 hitting. Senior outside hitter Cadie Bates finished a dig shy of the double-double, amassing 13 kills and nine digs.
“First of all, our setters Emma [Paradiso] and Sarah [Nelson] did a nice job today distributing the ball to where we were successful,” Nagel said. “Jessi [Bartholomew] was having a strong approach and taking big swings. Samie [Amos] doing the same thing; Virginia Tech couldn’t find a way to stop her.”
Senior middle blocker Anna Kropf registered a career-high nine blocks to go along with eight kills.
“Anna was working her butt off to get nine block assists,” Nagel added. “She also had eight kills. She was working to be available for our setters. We needed her to do that because that’s what was working against Virginia Tech.”
Virginia Tech (8-13, 2-8 ACC) warded off four Duke set points to claim a narrow 29-27 first-set victory. With the Blue Devils up 27-26, Virginia Tech used two kills and a service ace to sneak away with the narrow win and 1-0 overall advantage.
The Hokies used a 5-2 stretch to stake a second-set advantage they would not relinquish. Up 14-11, Virginia Tech did not allow Duke within three points the remainder of the stanza, grabbing a 25-19 decision and 2-0 overall lead.
Duke lead by a point, 22-21, nearing the end of the third set. Kropf knocked down a kill then teamed up with Bartholomew on the block to establish set point, 24-21. A Bartholomew kill finished it off, 25-23.
The Blue Devils controlled the fourth and led the set start to finish. Duke capitalized on nine Virginia Tech attack errors, while Amos and Bates had three kills apiece in the frame.
Up 4-3 to start the fifth, Duke utilized two Amos kills and two kills from its middle blockers to spark a 6-3 stretch. A Hokie service error established match point, 14-9. Virginia Tech scored four straight points before outside hitter Payton Schwantz hammered the victory-clinching kill.
“We worked as a team the second half of this match,” Nagel said. “Everyone has to contribute out there for us to be successful and that’s what we did in sets three, four and five. [I’m] really excited for our team to get a road ACC win. This should give our younger players confidence moving forward.”
Duke continues its current road swing this coming weekend, traveling to Georgia Tech Friday, Oct. 27 and Clemson Sunday, Oct. 29.