DURHAM, N.C. – Furman won the opening set against #17 Duke before the Blue Devils rallied back to take a 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-15) victory over the Paladins at the Duke Volleyball Invitational Friday evening in Durham, N.C., in the season opener for both teams. Senior Kelly Kirby recorded a triple-double for the Paladins, tallying 19 assists, 12 digs, and 10 kills.
The teams remained closely matched at the beginning of the first set, then Furman won five straight points and built a 17-11 advantage. After the Blue Devils cut the lead to one point, the Paladins took three consecutive points for a 21-17 lead. Again Duke rallied, winning four-straight points to tie the match at 21 apiece. Furman capitalized off two Duke errors for a 23-21 advantage, then kills by Kirby and junior Chandler Ambrester gave the Paladins a 25-23 victory.
Furman led throughout the second set, but Duke tied the match at 22, then won then won three out of the next four points for a 25-23 win to tie the match at one set apiece going into the break. The teams were tied at 7 to open the third set before Duke won five straight points for a 12-7 advantage and never looked back, winning the third set 25-20.
In the fourth set, the teams traded leads before the Paladins settled into a 10-7 lead. The Blue Devils then went on a 16-3 run to assume a 23-13 advantage. A kill by Kirby cut into the deficit, but two kills by Amanda Robertson sealed the 25-15 victory for Duke.
Junior Natalie Braun fell one kill shy of a triple-double, recording nine kills, a team-high 23 assists, and 13 digs, while Ambrester also recorded a double-double after leading the Paladins with 16 kills and adding 12 digs. Junior Caroline Adams led the team with a .333 attack percentage, while senior Alexis Shaffer and sophomore Christina Dorismond each collected four block assists in the match-up. Senior Carolyn Nicoletti led the Furman defensive attack with 21 digs.
Duke (1-0) was led by Christiana Gray, who hit .526 with 10 kills and four block assists. Robertson and Jeme Obeime each added 13 kills, and Ali McCurdy posted 24 digs. Kellie Catanach tallied a team-high 51 assists in the victory.
Furman (0-1) will face Wisconsin Saturday at 10 a.m. then will take on Charleston Southern Saturday at 5 p.m. to conclude the tournament.