The NC State volleyball team lost its first match of the season against the Duke Blue Devils in Durham. For the fourth consecutive time, the match between these two went to five sets, but the Wolfpack could not win the final set, losing the match 3-2.
The first set was very close, ending 25-19 after Duke pulled away with three straight points, all from errors. In this set alone, the Wolfpack had four serving errors and nine attack errors.
The second set was much better for the Wolfpack. The set started a little back and forth, with the Pack being down by four and closing the gap, making it 19-17. The Pack then fell again by four with a 21-17 score. Down but not out, the Pack mounted a great 8-2 run, winning the set 25-23.
Freshman outside hitter Hartley Myers showcased her ability with a total of 12 kills and 11 digs, finishing second highest in the match for kills. Freshman middleback Riley Shaak also played in all five sets, and shows plenty of promise as a feature player for the Pack.
The third set was the Pack’s sloppiest, losing 25-8 behind nine attack errors. The game almost seemed done with at this point, leaving the team scrambling for a way to dig out of a deep hole.
The fourth set didn’t start much better as Duke scored the first five points before a kill by Shaak broke the spell. The set got to 8-4, and head coach Luka Slabe made a few subs and the team got to work. The Pack scored five straight to take the lead. The Wolfpack built a four-point lead at 16-12, but the Blue Devils rallied back to 20-18. The set was closing in and finally, NC State closed the set with a 25-23 win.
During this set, junior middle back Pam Chukwujekwu set a new career high in kills, ending the night with 11. Senior opposite hitter Melissa Evans also set a new career high in digs, ending with 17 digs and a match-high 14 kills.
The fifth set started even, going to 10-9 with the Pack down. The Pack tied it with a kill from Myers. The Pack continuously fell behind, bringing the score to 13-12 before losing two straight points to close out the set.
Slabe has plenty of work to do, as the team recorded a total of 32 errors for the game. However, there was plenty to look positively at as well. Evans put on one of her best defensive performances in her career, and Myers and Shaak both showed that they are great additions to the team.
NC State will play Duke again in Durham this Saturday, Sept. 26. All games played this fall count towards final records and every team will be played twice back to back. The next pair of games will be against Virginia Tech in Raleigh.