PITTSBURGH – Midway into a four-match road stretch, Duke (16-11, 8-8 ACC) dropped a four-set decision in the Steel City Sunday, falling 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 25-17) to Pittsburgh (20-6, 13-2 ACC) at Fitzgerald Field House. Despite a season-high 19.0 Duke blocks, Pitt hit .261 as a team to remain tied for second place in the league standings.
“I’m just really proud the way our team hung in there and really battled,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “All the sets were really close. Up to about 20 points, it was neck and neck. Pitt was able to play those last points a little bit more efficiently than we did.”
Playing in front of her hometown crowd, Upper St. Clair, Pa., native Samantha Amos dropped a team-high 13 kills. Amos enjoyed one of her best outings of the season Sunday, hitting .385 while also contributing a career-high-tying eight blocks.
With her performance at Pitt, Amos registered her ninth match of the season with double-digit kills and eighth hitting over .300.
“Samie was good today,” Nagel said. “She lifted it up a notch and was important for us with her block and also with her offense. She did a good job. She was efficient in both parts of her game which allowed us to play some defense.”
Duke outside hitters Payton Schwantz (11) and Cadie Bates (10) joined Amos in double-digit kills. Schwantz garnered her 19th match of 10 or more kills on the season, adding three blocks and two digs. Bates picked up 10 digs Sunday to register her team-leading 14th double-double. Bates also contributed four blocks.
On the back line, Nicole Elattrache paced Duke with 13 digs, followed by Bates’ 10.
Pitt hitters Layne Van Buskirk and Stephanie Williams both enjoyed solid performances. Van Buskirk knocked down 13 kills on .474 hitting and Williams dropped 12 on a .417 clip.
Duke hit .364 in the first but Pitt posted 19 kills on .545 hitting to claim the opening set, 25-19. Stephanie Williams knocked down five kills on 10 errorless attempts to pace the Panthers.
The two teams could not carry the impressive hitting into the second, combining for 12 attack errors. Pitt did well to limit Duke in the frame, keeping the Blue Devils to nine kills while accruing 17 of their own. The Panthers picked up a pair of kills over the final two points to wrap up the 25-22 decision.
The Blue Devil block came out of the break in sync to allow Duke to pick up the third set. Duke stymied the Pitt hitters with 9.0 blocks in the third set alone. Despite an early lead, the Blue Devils had to rally late, using a pair of blocks to capture a 27-25 win.
Duke was unable to keep momentum in the fourth, surrendering the set 25-17. After faltering in the third, Pitt raced to a seven-point, fourth-set lead and never let Duke back in the contest.
Duke completes its regular season road schedule this coming weekend, traveling to Boston College Friday, Nov. 17 and Syracuse Sunday, Nov. 19.