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BLACKSBURG, Va. -  The Hokies' defense kept the Blue Devils off balance, registering 16.5 team blocks as the Duke volleyball team fell 3-1 (16-25, 18-25, 25-22, 19-25) at Virginia Tech Saturday evening at Cassell Coliseum.

Freshman Emily Sklar registered a double-double, her team-leading sixth of the season, with a team-high 14 kills to go along with 13 digs. Senior Christiana Gray joined Sklar in double-digit kills, knocking down 10 while also adding four blocks. Junior Ali McCurdy picked up a team-high 19 digs to anchor the Blue Devil defense.

The Hokies (13-8, 6-5 ACC), who hit .228 as a team, were led by Kathryn Caine and Victoria Hamsher with 16 and 13 kills, respectively. Virginia Tech's defense, led by Cara Baarendse and LaTasha Samson-Akpan with a combined 14 blocks,  limited the Blue Devils (12-11, 3-8 ACC) to .123 hitting on the night.

Virginia Tech opened the match with 14-4 run en route to a 25-16 victory in the first set. The Hokies posted 6.5 team blocks, limiting Duke to -.054 hitting in the first frame.

Down 16-11 in set two, Duke rattled off three straight with Gray picking up a kill and a block in the spurt. However, Virginia Tech regrouped following a Hokie timeout and put together a 6-1 run of its own. The Blue Devils were unable to cut into the deficit the rest of the way and Virginia Tech went up 2-0 with a 25-18 win in the second set.

Duke turned in its best performance in set three as Sklar amassed six kills without committing an error. The Blue Devils hit a match-high .325 in the set, which started with an 11-6 Blue Devil advantage. After Virginia Tech cut the lead to 18-16, Duke rebounded with a 3-1 run, bolstered by a block and an ace from junior Chelsea Cook. Up 24-22, the Blue Devils closed out the set with a Sklar kill.

Down 2-1, Duke was unable to carry over the momentum into the fourth set and was forced to call a timeout facing an early 10-5 deficit. Virginia Tech's lead swelled to 19-11 before Duke rallied for four consecutive points, but the deficit ultimately proved too much to overcome as the Hokies closed the match with a 25-19 decision in the fourth set.

Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium next weekend to face in-state rivals North Carolina and N.C. State. The Blue Devils and the Tar Heels meet Friday, October, 26 at 7 p.m., while Duke and the Wolfpack clash at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 27.


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