DURHAM, N.C. – After close to three weeks of preseason preparation, the 2019 Duke volleyball team is primed for its season opener Friday, Aug. 30 against Michigan State at the College of Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C.
Entering her 21st season at the program’s helm, head coach Jolene Nagel added five newcomers to this year’s squad in freshmen Lizzie Fleming, Gracie Johnson, Camille Nazor and Moorea Wood. In addition to the rookies, Duke is joined by graduate student Lauren Cline.
The Blue Devils seek to replace All-America honorees middle blocker Leah Meyer and setter/outside hitter Andie Shelton. Leading the way this fall is preseason All-ACC pick Payton Schwantz and five of last year’s eight starters in Samantha Amos, Mackenzie Cole, Lily Cooper, Sarah Nelson and Ade Owokoniran.
Entering her third year with the Blue Devils, Schwantz has amassed 651 career kills, averaging 2.97 per set. Additionally, the Frisco, Texas native totaled 400 digs in 219 sets played. As a sophomore, Schwantz led the team with 301 kills with a 3.04 per-set-average, registered double-digit kills 18 times that included a career-high 22 versus Notre Dame in October.
Amos looks to continue her success at the net as a Blue Devil where she notched 82 blocks and 149 kills as a junior while Cole is coming off an impressive freshman campaign. Cole played in all 28 contests as a libero and picked up a team-leading 295 digs for a 3.66 dig-per-set average where she ranked eighth in the ACC.
As a sophomore middle blocker, Cooper saw action in 27 matches and accumulated 116 blocks to rank second on the team and 10th in the conference while Nelson totaled 302 assists as one of Duke’s setters.
A middle blocker/outside hitter, Owokoniran returns after a standout rookie campaign that landed her on the All-ACC Freshman Team. Owokoniran registered 259 kills and ranked third on the team with a 2.76 kills-per-set average where she garnered 14 matches with double-digit kills.
Following the program’s 20th NCAA Tournament appearance, the Blue Devils concluded the 2018 season with a 16-12 overall record and went 10-8 in conference play.
The Blue Devils open the season this weekend on the road at the College of Charleston Classic. Duke will take on Michigan State Friday before facing Stanford, the 2018 NCAA Champions, on Saturday. Both matches will be at 4:30 p.m., and streamed on FloSports.
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