Career-high performances from sophomore middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg and freshman outside hitter Madi Robinson helped No. 8 BYU women’s volleyball beat Duke in four sets (16-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-17) in a rematch of the season opener Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Tonight we had a great team effort,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “I'm very pleased with how the team kept fighting after losing the first set. We had a few people come in the match that completely changed the energy. Kennedy was solid all night and is working hard every day and it's showing. Duke was a great host. We're grateful we got to come out here and learn about ourselves.”
Eschenberg collected five blocks to go with her 13 kills, a career high, while hitting at a .522 clip. Madi Robinson had a career-high 12 kills on a .632 clip coming off the bench. Lyndie Haddock-Eppich contributed 46 assists, while McKenna Miller chipped in 13 kills. Mary Lake added 19 digs in the win.
Duke (0-2) took a 6-3 lead over BYU (2-0) to begin the first set after several Cougar attack errors. A 4-1 Blue Devil run, capped off by an ace, increased the advantage to five as BYU called timeout down 11-6. Duke capitalized on more errors as it led 16-8 following an 8-2 rally. The Blue Devils led by as many as 12 before eventually taking the set, 25-16.
A block from Heather Gneiting and Haddock-Eppich helped the Cougars to a 5-1 lead to start the second set. Duke then used a 4-1 run to get back within a pair, trailing 8-6.
Another 4-0 rally from the Blue Devils evened the score at 10-all. Two kills from Eschenberg helped BYU go back ahead 15-11, but Duke pushed its way back to down just one, 17-16, after a kill. The two teams remained close from there until a 4-0 Cougar rally ended the set with a 25-19 win for BYU.
The Blue Devils took a 4-1 edge at the beginning of the third set after two kills from Duke’s Leah Meyer. The Cougars then used a run of their own to take a 6-5 lead. The teams remained neck-and-neck from there until a 4-1 BYU rally gave it a 13-10 advantage. The Blue Devils stayed in the set with smooth offense, evening the set at 18-apiece following a kill. Robinson helped the Cougars with a trio of kills as BYU took a 22-18 lead. Duke came back within a point, down 22-21, but the comeback proved too late as the Cougars won the set, 25-22, on another Robinson kill.
Consecutive Eschenberg kills put BYU in front, 7-5, to start the fourth set. A 5-0 Cougar rally then made it 12-6, and back-to-back Blue Devil errors kept BYU in the lead, 17-11. Consecutive kills from Danelle Stetler forced Duke to take a timeout, trailing 20-13. The Cougars then cruised to a 25-17 win to take the set and match.
BYU returns home to the Smith Fieldhouse next, facing West Virginia, No. 1 Stanford and Wichita State as part of the BYU Nike Invitational. The first match against West Virginia is slated for Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. MDT. The match will be streamed live on TheW.tv. Live stats can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.