With 11 returning members, Duke has the chemistry and experience for a season of success. Mackenzie Cole and Alex Springate, two members of the squad who have been invaluable since their start, are the captains for the 2021 season. Four freshmen have also joined along with graduate student Taylor Cole, who is Mackenzie’s sister.
Head coach Jolene Nagel is beginning the 2021 season with an almost identical offense to last season, which notably includes Ade Owokoniran, Gracie Johnson, and Payton Schwantz. Owokoniran and Johnson respectively led the team in kills in the extended 2020 season, but with more than 1,000 kills under her belt, Schwantz is, and always has been, a force to reckon with. The four freshmen joining the offense are middle blockers Rylie Kadel and Ngozi Iloh and outside hitters Nikki Underwood and Rachel Richardson. As the fall goes on, we will get to see how the freshmen blossom on the court led by the current leaders of the program.
The exhibition match against North Carolina A&T exemplified the age-old lesson of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” The Blue Devils picked up right where they left off with a few new additions and boundless energy.