The NC State volleyball team bounced back from a loss to North Carolina with a sweep against the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, Oct. 24 at Reynolds Coliseum.
The Wolfpack (12-9, 6-4 ACC) came from behind near the end of each of the first and third sets, winning both, as well as a slightly more comfortable second set to sweep the Blue Devils (12-9, 3-7 ACC).
“I have to give it to our team,” said head coach Luka Slabe. “They were working hard, they were competing hard. It was everything the way we wanted. … At the most important moments, we were able to sustain discipline and pressure that was coming from Duke.”
NC State scored the first three points of the first set, but Duke responded with a 4-0 run of its own, and it was back and forth the rest of the set. The Blue Devils pulled ahead to a 20-16 lead and were up 23-21, but the Pack won five of the next six points to win the set and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set started out back-and-forth like the first, but NC State was able to pull away on a 5-0 run to go up 10-5. The Pack would go up by as many as eight in the set, but the Blue Devils made it interesting towards the end, going on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 23-20. However, the Pack would win the final two points to take a commanding 2-0 match lead.
After another back-and-forth start to the third set, it was Duke that pulled away this time, going on a 6-0 run to go up 12-7. The Blue Devils would hold on to the lead, again going up 20-16 and were up 24-21 with a chance to clinch the set, but the Pack battled back, staving off three consecutive set points as part of a 5-0 run to win the set and complete the sweep.
“I think we had a lot of ups and downs throughout each set,” said redshirt junior outside hitter Taylor Rowland. “We just looked each other in the eyes and were like, ‘We need to get this done now.’ We had key players come in and do their job.”
NC State has now won four of its past five matches and is playing at an all-time high confidence level.
“Every day in practice, we’re coming in and getting better,” Rowland said. “I think we’re growing each game. We still have a lot of room to improve, but I think we’re going in the right direction, and it reflects a lot of what we do in practice.”
The Pack finished with a hitting percentage of .213, while holding Duke to .153 and had 42 kills to Duke’s 34. Senior outside hitter Jade Parchment led all players in kills with 12, while graduate opposite hitter Melissa Evans was right behind with 11. Freshman setter Maggie Jones led all players in assists with 18, and Rowland led all players in digs with 16.
The road doesn’t get any easier for NC State, but the team will nonetheless try and ride its momentum through the rest of the conference season, and this win was big in sustaining that.
“Nothing’s gonna be easy for us,” Slabe said. “Nothing’s gonna be easy for NC State. I’m extremely happy. I’m proud of our team. We got the win we needed, especially for our confidence.”
Next up, the Pack hits the road to take on Clemson on Friday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.