OMAHA, Neb. — The No. 10 Creighton Volleyball team avenged a loss from 22 days ago with a 3-0 victory over Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Northern Iowa on Saturday morning at the Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill.
Scores of Creighton’s fourth all-time sweep in 52 meetings with UNI were 25-16, 25-21, 25-11. The win was Creighton’s fourth straight win this fall.
Creighton (8-3) never trailed in the first set, hitting .290 while limiting the Panthers to .000 hitting. The Bluejays rolled to an 11-3 start to the contest and held Panther star Karlie Taylor without a kill in the opening frame. Jaela Zimmerman had three kills, three digs and a pair of blocks to help the Bluejays take a 1-0 lead.
CU hit .390 in the second set to win a 25-21 frame and take a 2-0 lead. The set was tied at 14s before two kills by Kari Zumach and another by Taryn Kloth pushed the margin to three. The differential grew to 22-17 on Madelyn Cole’s serve, and an ace by Annika Welty closed out the set.
Welty served up three more aces in the final set to help clinch the 25-11 frame, finishing with five service winners on the day after entering the season with three all fall.
Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth noticed her team’s intensity prior to the match, and was pleased with outcome.
“Our warm-up was much more focused,” said Booth. “We were much more locked in today than yesterday and need to have that expectation every time we step onto the court. I thought we played probably the best we’ve played in the last couple matches. It was clean, and it wasn’t anything we can’t do night in and night out. We kept the pressure on against a good UNI team. It’s a big win against a team that is really difficult to play and we should feel good about it going into tonight.”
Kloth led CU with nine kills on .368 hitting, while Zimmerman (8) and Megan Ballenger (7) combined for 15 kills on 34 errorless swings. Brittany Witt led CU with 16 digs and Cole had 29 assists to go with a pair of aces. CU finished with 41 kills, eight aces, five blocks, 54 digs and a .364 hitting percentage with just five errors in 99 swings.
UNI was paced by 11 kills from Piper Thomas, while Taylor was limited to seven kills. Kendyl Sorge led all players with 17 digs. The Panthers finished with 30 kills, four aces, 51 digs and one block on .112 hitting overall.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The No. 10 Creighton Volleyball team closed out non-conference play with a 3-1 loss at unbeaten and eighth-ranked Illinois on Saturday night in the final match of the Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill.
Scores of the match in favor of Illinois were 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23.
“Illinois is a great team with one of the best setters in the country and we knew that going in,” said Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “I thought we were in the match the whole night. In games 2, 3 and 4 we gave up runs early in the games that helped dictate who won in the end, but I thought we showed great fight. I told the team that they showed what we’re capable of and now need to focus on getting better so we can peak late in the season. The season is a marathon and not a sprint, and I can’t wait to get back in the gym to continue improving.”
Creighton (8-4) never trailed in the opening set, routing the host Illini thanks to seven kills by Taryn Kloth. CU opened a 6-1 lead to start the match, expanded it to 16-8, and clinched the 25-19 victory on an Illinois service error. The Fighting Illini had nine attack errors in the first set alone after having just three all morning in a three-set win over Lipscomb earlier in the day.
Illinois (11-0) evened the match with a second set victory. Three consecutive kills by Megan Ballenger gave Creighton a 9-8 lead, but it was short-lived as the Illini responded with an 8-1 run to take command. Creighton would narrow an 18-11 deficit to within 21-20, but could not draw even and dropped a 25-21 decision. Illinois hit .323 in the second set and held CU to .103 hitting while outblocking CU 4-0 in the frame.
The Illinois block proved too much to overcome for CU in the third set as well, as the Illini won another 25-21 decision to move ahead 2-1 in the contest. Just like the third set, CU fell behind by a couple at 17-13 and could not answer. Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli sealed the set with a block.
CU trailed 17-12 in the fourth set before Samantha Bohnet’s 7-0 serving run put the Jays in front. The Illini fought back to tie the score at 20-all, and with the score even at 23 would score the final two points to take the victory. Senior Jaali Winters became CU’s all-time leader in attack attempts (4,354) during the final set, passing Leah Ratzlaff (4,349 from 2002-05) in the process.
Kloth led CU with 23 kills while Brittany Witt had a season-best 26 digs. Winters had her 50th career double-double as a Bluejay, finishing with 11 kills and 10 digs.
Jacqueline Quade topped Illinois with 21 kills, and Jordyn Poulter added 45 assists and 15 digs.
The Illini finished with a 14-2 advantage in blocks, which proved to be the difference. Illinois also held narrow leads in digs (62-60) and hitting percentage (.241 to .211), while both teams had five aces and seven service errors. CU led 57-55 in kills.
Creighton opens its defense of four straight BIG EAST Conference titles next weekend when it returns home to host DePaul on Friday at 7 p.m. and No. 21 Marquette on Sunday at 1 p.m.