The Duke Blue Devils pulled off one of the most shocking results in college volleyball this season Sunday and ended one of the best stories of the season, handing No. 5 Pittsburgh its first loss this season in four sets.
The Panthers (23-1, 11-1 ACC) had no ranked teams left on their schedule. The chance of a perfect regular season seemed more of a likelihood than a mere possibility.
But the Blue Devils (13-8, 7-5 ACC) swiftly ended that by doing a few things other opponents hadn’t been able to do against previously undefeated Pitt. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at how Duke pulled off an unlikely upset.
.316 — Duke was the first team Pitt allowed to hit at a hitting percentage higher than .300. The Blue Devils hit .316, which was its highest total against a ranked team since at least 2007 and fifth time this season hitting .300 as a team. Leah Meyer and Ade Owokoniran each hit above .300 with double-digit kills. Lily Cooper hit .400 with seven kills and Andie Shelton hit .571 with eight kills. Duke also had the most kills of any team and least amount of errors in a four-set match against Pitt this season.
60 — If a team was going to beat the Panthers, it would have to play well on defense. Duke certainly did that, with 13 team blocks and 60 digs, the latter being the most against Pitt this season. Mackenzie Cole continued her phenomenal freshman season with 15 digs while Kelli Kalinoski and Shelton recorded 12 and 10, respectively.
22 — Pittsburgh has had more hitting errors in a match than the 22 it had on Sunday, yet it managed to win those other matches. And Duke certainly wasn’t error-free with its 16 hitting errors — and nine service errors. But when looking closer at the five games it had more hitting errors, including a match Pitt had 30, the Panthers held those opponents to hitting percentage under .200. Obviously, that wasn’t the case on Sunday, even when the Panthers hit a solid .250.
10 — As we mentioned earlier, Duke recorded 13 total blocks and continuously disrupted the Pitt attack throughout the match. In matches they record at least 10 total blocks, the Blue Devils are 9-3 on the season. In the matches they lost when tallying 10 total blocks, the team hitting percentage was less than .240, with the greatest being .237 against top-ranked BYU. With Cooper at 6-foot-5 and Meyer and Owokoniran standing at 6-foot-3, the Blue Devils make a formidable opponent at the net.