INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The No. 16 Creighton Volleyball team opened its quest for an eighth straight regular-season BIG EAST title on Friday with a 3-1 win at Butler. Creighton’s season-high seventh straight win of the year came by set scores of 25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19.
The victory tied Creighton’s school-record for wins in a month (10, also done in Sept. 2006 and Oct. 2015) and was Creighton’s 16th consecutive against Butler. CU is now 13-1 this season (1-0 BIG EAST), while Butler dropped to 6-8 (0-1 BIG EAST).
After falling behind 6-3 to start the match, Creighton turned the tables with a 6-1 run of its own and would not trail the rest of the game. Jaela Zimmerman had four kills and Norah Sis and Naomi Hickman each had three putaways in the opening frame. CU held Butler to just seven kills and .028 hitting, as Abby Bottomley had eight digs in addition to a pair of aces.
Creighton won a tight second set that featured eight ties. The score was deadlocked at 16 before the Jays moved ahead 19-16 on Megan Skovsende’s serve. Butler would draw within one point at 19-18, 20-19 and 21-20 before an ace by Bottomley moved the Bluejay cushion to 23-20. Kendra Wait’s solo stuff made it 24-20, and after two Butler points the Jays closed out the set on a kill from Zimmerman. Butler was held to -.022 hitting in 45 swings during the second frame as the Creighton front line combined for four blocks.
Creighton trailed 15-12 in third set before a timeout preceded an 8-1 surge. Keeley Davis fueled that run with three kills and a combo block with Hickman. Butler countered with a 5-0 run to retake the lead at 21-20. Creighton did retake a 22-21 lead but Butler reeled off four of the final five points to take the set. Creighton (29) and Butler (27) combined for 27 digs in the third set alone, as four different Bluejays had six or more. There were 13 ties and eight lead changes in the third set.
Zimmerman had three early kills to help Creighton race to a 6-1 lead and the Bluejays never trailed to close out its first league win of the fall. CU’s lead was trimmed to 13-12 before pulling away with eight of the next 12 points. A kill from Hickman, her season-high 10th, ended the match. Zimmerman had seven kills in 11 swings in the clincher, and Wait dished 16 assists to help CU hit .425 in 40 swings.
“They (Butler) dug us really well, because we went up and swung really aggressively and I thought they played great defensive behind it,” said Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “Obviously we’re pleased to get our first BIG EAST road win but we have to learn from it and be cleaner.”
Zimmerman (21 kills, 17 digs), Sis (11 kills, 14 digs) and Wait (46 assists, 18 digs) turned in double-doubles, while Bottomley had a match-leading and season-high 31 digs. Zimmerman’s 21 kills tied her career-high, while the 17 digs were one shy of her career-best. Creighton had 60 kills, five aces, 92 digs and 9.5 blocks on .231 hitting.
Butler was topped by 15 kills and four blocks by Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Melody Davidson, and Jaymeson Kinley contributed 25 digs. The Bulldogs collected 46 kills, six aces, 83 digs and seven blocks on .135 hitting.
Creighton returns to action on Saturday at 4 p.m. Central with a match at Xavier that will air on subscription-based FloSports. The Musketeers are 6-5 (1-0 BIG EAST) after winning the final three sets in a 3-2 victory vs. Providence on Friday in Cincinnati.