CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — A career-high 17 kills on .640 hitting from junior Naomi Hickman helped No. 23 Creighton Volleyball team pick up its first victory of the season, a 3-1 win over No. 12 Kentucky, on Friday.
It’s the third straight season Creighton has knocked off a top-15 Kentucky team, and fourth time in the last five seasons.
Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22.. The match was the first of the UNI Tournament, held at McLeod Center on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.
Creighton won the first set in a tightly-contested battle featuring 17 ties and six lead changes. The score was knotted at 23-all before the Jays closed out the set with a kill by Keeley Davis and a double-block by Erica Kostelac and Hickman. Madelyn Cole dished 17 assists in the opener as the Jays pounded 22 kills from seven different women. Kostelac had six kills on .625 hitting to pace the offense.
The second set included 14 more ties and six lead exchanges before the Wildcats evened the match with a 25-20 win. Creighton led 19-18 after Hickman and Cole combined for a block, only to see UK rattle off a 7-1 run to end the set. Creighton had five blocks in the second set, including four from Cole, but hit just .171.
Creighton used a 7-0 serving run from Brittany Witt to open up an 11-4 lead in the third set en route to a 25-18 victory. Ballenger and Hickman each had five kills in the third set, hitting a combined .714 in 14 errorless swings.
The Bluejays opened up a 6-1 lead in the fourth set thanks to aces by Hickman and Jaela Zimmerman and would not trail the rest of the way. A block by Cole and Ballenger ended the match. Witt had nine digs in the final set and Cole distributed 14 assists to five different Bluejays.
Hickman’s 17 kills were eight more than her previous best of nine, and she hit .640 in 25 swings. Fellow middle blocker Megan Ballenger also came up big, hitting .579 with 12 kills on 19 swings. Ballenger and Cole shared team-high honors with five blocks each, and Witt contributed a season-high 23 digs. Creighton had 65 kills, four aces, 63 digs and 10 blocks on .319 hitting.
Kentucky was paced by 18 kills from 2018 SEC Player of the Year Leah Edmond, and Gabby Curry added 21 digs. Madison Lilley finished with 47 assists and 10 digs while Alli Stumler recorded 15 kills and 18 digs to notch double-doubles for the Wildcats, who tallied 55 kills, three aces, 66 digs and four blocks on .216 hitting.
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The No. 23 Creighton Volleyball team picked up its second win in 12 hours with a 3-1 road win at defending Missouri Valley Conference champion Northern Iowa on Friday, Sept. 6.
Scores in Creighton’s favor were 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 15-11. It’s Creighton’s 11th all-time win over UNI, and sixth in five sets. Creighton is now 7-2 in its last nine meetings with UNI after starting 4-40 versus the Panthers.
Creighton (2-2) and UNI (2-2) split the first two sets.
The Panthers hit .268 in the opening frame and used six blocks to limit the Bluejays to .075 hitting, with UNI’s Kate Busswitz terminating on all five attack attempts.. Creighton then fell behind 5-0 to open the second set before a 7-2 surge knotted the score at 7-all. CU used a 7-1 run on Brittany Witt’s serve to move ahead 19-14 and held off a ferocious Panther challenge down the stretch. Megan Ballenger provided a kill on set point, which stood after a replay review of nearly four minutes in CU’s 25-22 victory. Brittany Witt had eight digs in the second set for the Jays.
Creighton took a 2-1 lead in the contest with a 25-22 victory in the third set. Trailing 17-13 late in the frame, the Jays used a 6-1 lead to move ahead 19-18 and would not trail again. A kill from Jaela Zimmerman capped off the set victory. The sophomore from Lincoln had four digs, three kills, one ace and a block in the third set alone.
UNI controlled the fourth set in a 25-18 win, hitting .289 to CU’s .100 as Karlie Taylor delivered eight kills for the hosts. CU managed just eight kills as a team in the game, with five coming from Erica Kostelac.
After UNI won the first point of the fifth set, Zimmerman served CU on a 6-0 run. The Jays saw their 7-2 lead narrowed to 7-5 after a Panther run, but CU still led by three as the teams switched benches midway through the set at 8-5. Northern Iowa gave the Jays a scare when it closed to within 10-8 and 12-10, but a kill by Kostelac and the first career ace by true freshman Ally Van Eekeren gave CU four match point chances. UNI survived the first two chances before Taylor’s attack error on match point.
Kostelac (15), Keeley Davis (10), Ballenger (10) and Naomi Hickman (10) all notched double-figure kills for CU, while Brittany Witt had her 20th career match with 20 or more digs, finishing with a season-high 28. Madelyn Cole had her second double-double of the day and third of the young season as the senior finished with 48 assists and 15 digs. The Jays had 57 kills, six aces, 88 digs and 7.5 blocks on .154 hitting.
UNI was led by 29 kills from Taylor, who needed 78 swings to do it and hit .218. She added 14 digs an an ace. Busswitz added 19 kills on .457 hitting. The Panthers had 63 kills, three aces, 87 digs and 11 blocks on .188 hitting.
Creighton wraps up play in the UNI Tournament on Saturday at 5 p.m. with a match against No. 15 USC.