#21 Creighton Volleyball Heads To Texas For Friday’s Sweet 16 Battle With #17 Michigan

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Courtesy: Creighton Athletics

2016 NCAA Tournament – Austin Regional
Dec. 9 3:00 pm #10 BYU at #5 Texas (ESPNU) Austin, Texas
Dec. 9 5:30 pm #21 Creighton vs. #17 Michigan (ESPN3) Austin, Texas
Dec. 10 7:00 pm Creighton/Michigan winner vs. Texas/BYU winner (ESPNU) Austin, Texas Matches to be played at Gregory Gymnasium

This Weekend
No. 21 Creighton (28-6) returns to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, where it will take on 17th-ranked and 12th-seeded Michigan (24-10). Friday’s contest will take place at 5:30 pm Central.
Friday’s Creighton/Michigan winner advances to play the victor of the 3 pm match between 10th-ranked and 13th-seeded BYU (29-3) at fifth-ranked and fourth-seeded Texas (24-4).
Saturday’s Regional Final takes place at 7:00 pm, with a berth in the Final Four on the line.
Gregory Gymnasium in Austin, Texas, will host the action this weekend.

Broadcast Information
Creighton’s match on Friday vs. Michigan will air on ESPN3.com, as well as the WatchESPN app.
Maria Taylor and Tiffany Greene will announce.

Live Stats Information
All matches in Austin this weekend will have live stats, with links available at TexasSports.com.

Scouting Creighton
Creighton is 28-6 overall and owns a nation-leading and school-record 22-match winning streak after consecutive five-set victories last weekend over Northern Iowa and No. 4 Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.
The Bluejays earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of 3-0 wins over Seton Hall and Xavier in the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship, which came on the heels of a perfect 18-0 run through the BIG EAST in the regular-season.
Junior setter and BIG EAST Player of the Year Lydia Dimke (11.39 aps., 2.71 dps., 1.17 kps., .312%) has posted 16 double-doubles in 34 starts. She’ll be in familiar company on Friday, as she competed in Austin during last year’s NCAA Tournament and the Purdue transfer has also played previously against Michigan in her career.
Second-team all-BIG EAST middle blockers Marysa Wilkinson (2.48 kps., 0.87 bps., .336%) and Lauren Smith (2.17 kps., 0.93 bps., .340%) rank among the best in the Midwest at what they do, and have hit a combined .363 with 162 blocks in CU’s last 25 matches.
Others to keep an eye are First Team All-BIG EAST outside hitters Jaali Winters (3.59 kps., 2.82 dps.) and Taryn Kloth (3.22 kps., .285%). Winters was named BIG EAST Tournament MVP, then continued her strong play with more than 20 kills in both matches last weekend.
Creighton averages 14.68 kills, 1.39 aces, 16.03 digs and 2.15 blocks per set while hitting .276 as a team.

Scouting Michigan
Michigan is 24-10 on the season and advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2012 with wins over American (3-0) and No. 19 Oregon (3-1) last weekend in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines finished 11-9 in BIG EAST play and are 13-1 in non-conference matches this fall.
Abby Cole (3.15 kps., .322%, 1.02 bps.) leads the Wolverine attack. She’s one of five Michigan women to average multiple kills per set, a group that also includes Claire Kieffer-Wright (2.47 kps., 1.02 bps., .303%), Kelly Murphy (2.43 kps.), Carly Skjodt (2.26 kps.) and the injured Adeja Lambert (2.73 kps.).
MacKenzi Welsh (10.60 aps., 0.23 saps.) sets the offense, while Jenna Lerg (4.21 dps.) paces the defense.
The Wolverines average 14.01 kills, 13.99 digs, 2.55 blocks and 1.13 aces per set while hitting .260.

The Coaches
Creighton is coached by Kirsten Bernthal Booth (Truman State, 1997), who owns a 290-152 record in her 14th season with the Bluejays. She’s led Creighton to back-to-back-to-back BIG EAST titles, and five league crowns in the last six years. She has led the Bluejays to their first two Sweet 16’s in program history and has been named 2015 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, 2015 AVCA East Region Coach of the Year and 2016 BIG EAST Coach of the Year in the last 14 months.
She was also named the 2010 CVU.com National Coach of the Year after leading Creighton to the second round during its first NCAA Tournament appearance, and named the CaptainU College Coach of the Year, as well as the MVC Coach of the Year, in 2012 following another run to the second round of the NCAA’s and a school-record 29 victories.
The winningest coach in school history, Booth has led Creighton to its only six NCAA Tournament bids in the program’s modern history. She’s also led the Jays into the top-25 each of the last five years, another program first.
Booth came to Creighton after going 112-41 in three years at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Booth played volleyball at Truman State, where she was named conference MVP, an Academic All-American and Missouri’s 1997 NCAA Woman of the Year. She ranked third in Division II history with 6,077 assists when she graduated.
Booth is assisted by Ryan Meek, Angie Oxley Behrens and Micah Rhodes.
Michigan is coached by Mark Rosen, who is 363-231 in his 18th year at Michigan and 571-268 in 24 years overall when adding in time at CSUB and Northern Michigan. This is his sixth Sweet 16 as coach of the Wolverines. He is the winningest coach in program history, and is assisted by Leisa Rosen, Sean Byron and Amy Angelos.

Series History vs. Michigan
Creighton and Michigan have never met.
Kirsten Bernthal Booth has never coached against Mark Rosen, nor Michigan, and Rosen has never faced Creighton.

Last Weekend Summary
Creighton won five-set matches against Northern Iowa and No. 4 Kansas to clinch the program’s second straight Sweet 16 bid. Jaali Winters averaged 4.70 kills and 2.60 digs per set in the wins, while Marysa Wilkinson (3.30 kps., .329%) also stepped up in a big way.
Brittany Witt averaged 5.30 digs per set and led CU with three aces, while Lydia Dimke averaged 11.60 assists and 2.20 digs per set.

Creighton’s NCAA Tournament History
Creighton is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the past seven years after earning a fifth straight bid to the Big Dance.
This is the team’s second trip to the Sweet 16, also making it last year after emerging from the Chapel Hill sub-Regional. CU has never made the Elite Eight.
The Bluejays are 7-5 in six appearances, and have knocked off the likes of Iowa State (2010), Marquette (2012), Arkansas (2013), Coastal Carolina (2015) No. 23 North Carolina (2015), Northern Iowa (2016) and No. 4 Kansas (2016).
Creighton is 5-1 in first round play, 2-3 in the second round and 0-1 in the Regional semifinal round. The Bluejays are also 5-2 at neutral-site matches and 2-3 in true road games.
Creighton has never faced Michigan, BYU or Texas in NCAA Tournament action at any site.
Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 7-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Super Six
Kirsten Bernthal Booth joined some select company when she directed her troops to a sixth NCAA Tournament. That puts her in the company of some of the greatest coaches in CU Athletics history.
Booth is one of five head coaches in Creighton history to lead six different NCAA Tournament teams.
Name Sport NCAA’s @CU
Bob Warming Men’s Soccer 11
Dana Altman Men’s Basketball 7
Brent Vigness Softball 7
Kirsten Bernthal Booth Volleyball 6
Elmar Bolowich Men’s Soccer 6
Bret Simon Men’s Soccer 5
Bruce Erickson Women’s Soccer 5
Mary Higgins Softball 5

Connections To Michigan
Creighton and Michigan don’t have much in common, but there are a couple items of note.
Creighton’s Kenzie Crawford and Michigan’s Abby Cole are former teammates on the club circuit with the Michigan Volleyball Academy.
A Grand Rapids native, Crawford is Creighton’s only player since 1994 to hail from Michigan.

Congrats Come In From All Over
It wasn’t long after Creighton’s win at No. 4 Kansas before it sent shockwaves across the volleyball landscape.
Within minutes after the match, US National Team libero Kayla Banwarth had tweeted and fired off a text to Creighton assistant Micah Rhodes, while US National Team coach Karch Kiraly send a congratulatory text to Kirsten Bernthal Booth.
Booth’s phone had 129 texts and messages waiting for her by the time the team boarded the bus back to Omaha about 45 mintues after the match, not to mention dozens of tweets aimed to her and the program.

Unseeded Teams In The Regionals
Creighton is just the fourth team since 2001 to beat the No. 5 seed in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
This year marks the 16th straight season that at least 10 seeded teams advanced to the Sweet 16.
Before Creighton this year, the last team to go on the road on the opening weekend in consecutive seasons and reach the Sweet 16 both times is BYU in 2013 and 2014.
Exactly one unseeded team has made a Regional Final in five of the last six years, including Hawai’i last year and Michigan in 2012.
On the other hand, Michigan is attempting to become the first No. 12 seed to reach the Elite Eight since Wisconsin in 2013.

Common Opponents
Creighton and Michigan shared three common opponents, all of whom reached the NCAA Tournament.
Creighton went 2-2 against those teams, while Michigan also went 2-2.
Opponent CU Score Michigan Score
Kansas State L 1-3 W 3-1
Nebraska L 1-3 L 0-3
Nebraska L 1-3
Northern Iowa W 3-0 W 3-0
Northern Iowa W 3-2

Against Tourney Teams
Both Creighton and Michigan played challenging schedules throughout the season. Creighton went 7-6 against teams in the field of 64, while Michigan went 10-9 against NCAA squads.
In those matches, Jaali Winters led Creighton with 3.81 kills per set and was second with 3.21 digs per set. Lauren Smith hit a team-best .291, while freshman Brittany Witt had 11 service aces. Winters had nine double-doubles in those matches against the best of the best, while Dimke owned eight.

Dimke Heading To Familiar Territory
Creighton setter Lydia Dimke should feel right at home when her Creighton team meets Michigan this Friday at Gregory Gymnasium in Austin.
Dimke spent the previous two seasons at Purdue, where her Boilermaker squad defeated the Wolverines in the lone meeting in both 2014 and in 2015.
Additionally, last year’s Purdue team was sent to Austin, Texas for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Purdue defeated SMU before losing in four sets to host Texas in the Second Round.

Against The Big Ten
Creighton is 3-15 all-time against teams that were Big Ten members at the time of the match, including wins over Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern.
Creighton’s last win against a Big Ten team came August 25, 2012, when the Bluejays beat Wisconsin in Tampa, Fla.

Tourney Best, So Far
One could make the argument that Creighton has played in two of the best matches of the entire NCAA Tournament so far, but there’s no argument with where CU ranks statistically this postseason.
Creighton leads the entire NCAA Tournament in assists (128), digs (165), kills (134) and total attacks (364).
Individually, Jaali Winters leads all players in points (51.0), kills (47) and attacks (120) in the NCAA Tournament, while Lydia Dimke is tops in assists (116) and Brittany Witt is tops in digs (53).

Fifth Set Magic
Creighton advanced to the Sweet 16 thanks to five-set wins over Northern Iowa and Kansas last weekend in Lawrence.
The Bluejays are the first team to reach the Sweet 16 after consecutive five-set victories since 15th-seeded Iowa State beat IPFW and North Carolina in Ames in 2012.
The Bluejays are the first unseeded team to reach the Sweet 16 after consecutive five-set victories since Indiana in 2010, though the Hoosiers were at home.
The Bluejays are the first unseeded team to reach the Sweet 16 after consecutive five set victories away from home since Michigan in 2008. It’s Michigan (of course), that Creighton will meet on Friday.

Five Set Recovery
Dating back to early last season, Creighton Volleyball is 9-1 in the match following a five-set contest.
Creighton is coming off a 3-2 win over Kansas last Friday.

High Five
Creighton lost all three matches to go five sets in its pre-conference slate, but has evened its record to 3-3 in contests to go the distance thanks to wins in the fifth set in three of its last five matches.
The win over Kansas last Friday was especially impressive, as the fourth-ranked Jayhawks had been 8-0 in five-set matches in 2016, and had not lost a home match all season.
Creighton is 3-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament games to go five sets.
No school has ever opened the NCAA Tournament with three straight five-set victories.

Fit To Be Tied
Creighton had some anxious moments before earning its two wins last weekend in Lawrence.
In Thursday’s First Round win over UNI, the Bluejays squandered two match points after taking a 24-22 lead in the third set, only to play another hour and eventually win a 15-12 fifth set.
In Friday’s Second Round win over No. 4 Kansas, the Bluejays didn’t seal the victory until its seventh match point opportunity in the fifth set. CU celebrated when it thought it had won the match at 18-16, only to have a meeting with all four officials lead to the call on match point being overturned when it was determined that Creighton made contact at a net with a ball that sailed long.
Rather than complain and lose focus, Creighton quickly regrouped, earning a first ball kill, and would eventually win by a 20-18 margin on a Megan Ballenger kill.
The 20-18 score equalled the highest-scoring fifth set in program history.
Put another way, how close was the fifth set? In a set typically played to 15 (teams must win by two), the fifth set featured 16 ties and six different lead changes.

Taking The Fifth
Creighton is 47-26 in five-set matches under Kirsten Bernthal Booth, including a 3-3 mark this year and a 16-7 home record under Booth in five-setters. That’s impressive since Creighton had never finished a season with a winning record in fifth sets prior to Booth’s arrival.
Creighton has won nine of its last 12 true road matches to go five sets, including wins in 2012 over league rivals Northern Iowa, Wichita State and Missouri State, wins in 2013 at Denver and at Wichita State, wins in 2014 at Butler and at St. John’s, a win last year at Georgetown in 2015, and an NCAA Tournament win at No. 4 Kansas in 2016.
It’s also worth noting that Creighton is 10-3 all-time in five-set home matches at D.J. Sokol Arena.
Below is a list of Creighton’s record in five-set matches on a yearly basis:
Year Set 5 W-L Total W-L
1994 0-2 5-20
1995 0-2 11-19
1996 2-6 9-19
1997 3-5 15-13
1998 2-3 7-18
1999 3-3 13-15
2000 3-3 16-12
2001 1-1 14-13
2002 1-3 3-23
2003 5-1 12-18
2004 4-0 18-11
2005 3-1 16-14
2006 4-2 21-10
2007 2-0 21-10
2008 2-3 18-9
2009 1-4 14-17
2010 3-3 21-12
2011 5-2 17-14
2012 4-1 29-4
2013 3-2 23-9
2014 3-2 25-9
2015 5-2 27-9
2016 3-3 28-6
Total 62-54 383-304

Longest Win Streaks, Nationally
Creighton’s 22 match win streak is easily the longest win streak in the nation. Here’s that complete list:
Wins Team
22 Creighton
13 BYU
12 Minnesota
10 North Carolina
9 Washington

22 Straight Wins
Creighton enters the Sweet 16 with 22 straight victories, a streak that’s the longest stretch in program history. That’s five more than the previous program record of 17 straight, set in 2012.
Across all Creighton sports, only the men’s basketball team (38 straight from 1917-1920) have posted a longer win streak, though that was nearly a century ago.
Each of the 10 longest win streaks in Creighton Volleyball history have come under the direction of Kirsten Bernthal Booth.
Most Consecutive Wins, Creighton VB History
Wins Dates Snapped By
22 Sept. 23, 2016 – Present ? ? ?
17 Sept. 29-Nov. 30, 2012 at #11 Minnesota, 3-1
12 Sept. 20-Oct. 25, 2015 at Villanova, 3-2
11 Oct. 11-Nov. 21, 2014 Seton Hall, 3-0
10 Oct. 31-Dec. 5, 2015 vs. #2 USC, 3-1

At Home On The Road
Creighton owns four wins away from home in the last two NCAA Tournaments. Nationally, that’s tied for the most in the nation with Hawaii.
Creighton, Florida State and Purdue are the only three schools with at least one road/neutral win in both the 2015 and 2016 NCAA Tournaments.

Winters Is Coming
Jaali Winters played some of her best volleyball against the best teams on Creighton’s schedule this fall.
In 18 matches against teams with an RPI of 75 or better this fall, Winters averages 3.96 kills and 3.08 digs per set. She owned 11 double-doubles in those contests.
By comparison, in 16 matches against teams with an RPI of 76 or worse, Winters averaged 3.00 kills per set and 2.40 digs per set, finishing with one double-double. Creighton went 16-0 in those matches, dropping just a single set. The Bluejays hit .339 and averaged 2.71 blocks per set as a team in those contests.
Winters has played in five career NCAA Tournament matches, and has 20 or more kills in four of those. No other player in program history has ever had more than 18 kills in an NCAA Tourney match.
Category Regular-Season NCAA Tourney
Matches Played 32 2
20+ Kill Matches 3 2
Kills Per Set 3.48 4.70
Hitting Pct. .220 .242
Digs Per Set 2.84 2.60
Blocks Per Set 0.22 0.40

Where’s Wilkinson?
Marysa Wilkinson plays a little bit of everywhere on the Bluejay front line, and last weekend her took her offense to a new level.
The undersized middle blocker had a career-high 18 kills in Thursday’s win over Northern Iowa while hitting a team-best .394.
In Friday’s victory against Kansas, Wilkinson had 15 kills on .275 hitting in a career-high 40 swings.
Wilkinson has consistently been an “X-Factor” in her career, as CU is 33-0 all-time when she hits .400 or better.

Diggers Hotline
Northern Iowa entered last Thursday’s First Round match leading the nation in digs per set, but Creighton out-dug the scrappy Panthers 86-71. The 86 digs were CU’s fourth-most this season.
One night later, Creighton outdug Kansas, 79-74.
Keying Creighton’s back row have been Brittany Witt and Kenzie Crawford. Both women had career-highs in the match vs. UNI, as Witt had 32 digs and Crawford added 17. The duo then combined for 33 digs (21 for Witt, 12 for Crawford) against KU.
Not to be forgotten in CU’s defensive effort is the work being done by six-rotation stars Jaali Winters (2.82 dps.) and Lydia Dimke (2.71 dps.). Winters leads all BIG EAST outside hitters in digs per set, while Dimke tops the league’s setters in the same category.
Creighton has won the digs battle in 20 of the 22 matches during its current winning streak, and is 24-2 this year when outdigging the opposition.

All-Around Excellence
Creighton has reached the Sweet 16 not only in women’s volleyball, but in men’s soccer too.
Creighton joins Stanford, Washington and North Carolina as the only four schools with a Sweet 16 in both sports this fall.
Last year, Creighton and Ohio State were the only teams to reach the Sweet 16 in the same two sports.

Against Ranked Teams
Creighton owns just a 6-66 mark against ranked teams all-time, but that includes a healthier 3-4 record in the postseason. Creighton beat No. 16 Iowa State in the First Round in 2010, last year won at No. 23 North Carolina in the Second Round, and last Friday won at No. 4 Kansas.
Creighton is 2-5 all-time as a ranked team when facing another ranked team. However, the Bluejays have won 11 sets in those matches, including a 3-1 win over then-No. 13 BYU to open the 2013 season and last Friday’s 3-2 win at No. 4 Kansas.
The win over No. 4 Kansas was the highest-ranked team that Creighton has ever beaten, topping the mark of last year’s 3-0 sweep over then-No. 10 Kentucky.

Piling Up The W’s
Creighton’s 28 victories this season are second-most in program history for a single campaign.
Only the 2012 team that went 29-4 has more.
The 28 wins are the most by any BIG EAST team since Seton Hall had 28 victories in 2014. No BIG EAST team has had 29 wins since Louisville went 30-4 in 2012.

All Is Right On The Left Side
Taryn Kloth’s fortunes changed when she was moved to the left side on September 3rd before CU’s match vs. USC.
Since then, she’s had matches of 23 (USC), 15 (No. 4 Kansas), 17 (Chattanooga) and 20 (Villanova) kills. The average of 11.87 kills per match is especially impressive since she entered this stretch with a career-high of 16 kills in the first 34 matches of her career.
Creighton is 40-5 all-time when Kloth hits .182 or better, 25-2 when she starts, and 45-8 when she has five or more kills in a match.

Back-To-Back-To-Back BIG EAST Champs
Creighton won a third straight BIG EAST Championship title in late November, becoming the first to do so since Louisville won three straight titles from 2008-10.
It was Creighton’s fifth straight league tournament title game appearance dating to the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference title.

All-Tourney History
Lauren Smith made a little bit of history when she was named to the All-Tournament Team at the BIG EAST Championship.
She became the first player in program history to be named to the All-Tournament Team at three different league championships, as she was previously MVP in 2014 and on the All-Tournament team in 2013.
Smith has been named to 11 different All-Tournament Teams in her career.

Bluejays Collect The Hardware
Creighton had quite a haul of honors as the BIG EAST named its All-Conference Team on Nov. 23rd.
Lydia Dimke was named BIG EAST Player of the Year, while Kirsten Bernthal Booth leads a staff named BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year for the second straight season.
Booth is the first person to earn consecutive BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors since Notre Dame’s Debbie Brown in 2000 and 20001.
Dimke is Creighton’s first BIG EAST Player of the Year in program history, and joins Megan Bober as the only Bluejay volleyball player ever named league Player of the Year. Bober was honored in 2012 by the Missouri Valley Conference.
In addition to Dimke, Jaali Winters and Taryn Kloth were named First Team All-BIG EAST, while Lauren Smith and Marysa Wilkinson were Second Team All-BIG EAST honorees.
This is the second First Team All-Conference award for Winters, and first for both Dimke and Kloth.
It’s the first time Wilkinson has been named to an All-BIG EAST team, while Smith sandwiched a First Team pick in 2015 with second-team honors in both 2014 and 2016.

Five Straight NCAA’s
Not only is Creighton making an unprecedented fifth straight NCAA trip for the volleyball team, but it is the first Creighton women’s team in any sport to make five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Some 2016 Highlights
-Creighton owned an NCAA RPI of 17 in the official rankings on Selection Sunday.
-The winning percentage of Creighton’s opponents is 17th-best nationally (.616).
-Creighton won the BIG EAST Conference, the nation’s ninth-best league, by five full games in the standings.
-Creighton has won 22 straight, and 24 of its last 25 matches, with the lone loss being a 3-1 setback at Nebraska in which CU squandered three set points that could have given the Jays a 2-1 lead.
-Creighton ranks nationally tied for sixth with 28 victories, tied for 15th in road victories and tied for 15th in winning percentage (.824) this season.

Title History
Creighton won its fourth regular-season title in program history in 2016. All of those have come in the last five years.
Creighton’s first league title in program history came in 2012, when the Bluejays went 17-1 to win the Missouri Valley Conference title. That team went on to win the MVC Tournament title, as well.
In 2014, Creighton went 16-2 in league play and swept the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament crowns.
Last year Creighton went 17-1 to win the BIG EAST, then won a pair of BIG EAST Championship contests to take home a second straight title.
This year’s club also won the regular-season and tournament titles in the BIG EAST.
Since joining the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 school year, Creighton has won BIG EAST regular-season titles in baseball (2014), men’s soccer (2014) and volleyball (2014, 2015 and 2016), and BIG EAST Championship titles in volleyball (2014, 2015 and 2016).

Senior Weekend A Success
Creighton honored Jess Bird, Amanda Foje and Lauren Smith following last its Nov. 20 match vs. Villanova as part of the program’s annual Senior Day festivities.
Bird and Foje have been at Creighton for four years while Smith is in her fifth year after redshirting the 2012 campaign. In that time, these women have combined to win 10 regular-season conference titles and 10 conference tournament rings while reaching a pair of Sweet 16’s.
The Bluejays are 132-37 in the past five seasons, including an 82-8 mark in conference play. All five teams have been nationally ranked at some point, and part of the first women’s program in Creighton history to appear in five straight NCAA Tournaments.
Smith and Bird were named BIG EAST Tournament MVP in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and both women have been named First Team All-Conference in past seasons as well as nominees for the Senior CLASS Award. After one ace in 22 matches during her first two seasons, Foje has emerged as a valuable serving weapon for the Bluejays, dealing 28 aces in her last 69 contests.
All told, the trio has combined for 2,106 kills, 96 aces, 1,195 digs and 705 blocks.

Jays Run The Table
One year after setting a BIG EAST record with 17 conference victories, Creighton broke its own BIG EAST record for league wins in a season with 18.
It’s the first team in BIG EAST history to finish 18-0, and Creighton became the first team since Notre Dame’s 2001 club to go unbeaten in both BIG EAST regular-season and tournament play.
Here’s a look at the most consecutive wins to start league play in BIG EAST history:
Consecutive Wins To Start BIG EAST Play
Wins School Year Final W-L
18 Creighton 2016 18-0
14 St. John’s 2006 14-0
14 Notre Dame 2009 14-0
13 Louisville 2007 13-1

Back-to-Back-To-Back BIG EAST Champs
Creighton locked up a third straight BIG EAST regular-season title with two wins over Providence on Nov. 11-12.
St. John’s had been the last BIG EAST team to win a share of three straight titles, having done so from 2006-08, while Notre Dame had been the last team to win three or more straight outright BIG EAST regular-season titles, having claimed four in a row from 1999-2002.
The Irish were also the last team to go unbeaten in league play, having done so in 2009 (14-0).

Automatic Bid x 3
Creighton is one of nine schools nationally to earn an automatic bid into the 2014, 2015 and 2016 NCAA Tournaments. That grouping includes New Hampshire, Dayton, Creighton, Coastal Carolina, Western Kentucky, American, Denver and BYU.
Of those teams, the only six schools to win a conference tournament in consecutive campaigns have been American, Coastal Carolina, Creighton, Dayton, Denver and New Hampshire.

Magic Number Three
Creighton won its third straight BIG EAST regular-season title, and its third straight BIG EAST Championship title in Indianapolis in late November.
One key reason for the success is the team’s performance in the third set. Creighton went 20-0 against league foes in the third set this year. In those 20 matches, the opponent scored 20+ points on just six occasions.
Dating back to last season Creighton has won 26 straight third sets in regular-season BIG EAST contests, and the team to win the third set has won each of Creighton’s last 30 regular-season BIG EAST matches.

121, 122, 123…
Lauren Smith has made 123 straight starts, a streak that started Oct. 5, 2013 in a match at Xavier that also doubled as Creighton’s first BIG EAST win in program history.
The streak of 123 straight starts is the second-longest in program history, trailing only former setter Megan Bober (128).
Smith passed Bober’s record for career starts on Nov. 12 vs. Providence when she made her 129th career start.
Smith also has played in a school-record 136 career matches and 503 career sets.
Creighton is 132-37 since Smith enrolled in 2012 with four regular-season conference titles, four conference tournament titles, six NCAA Tournament victories and five NCAA Tournament bids. Prior to her arrival, Creighton was 251-267 all-time with one NCAA victory and no conference titles in the previous 18 seasons.
Smith is now atop the charts in sets played, matches played, matches started and wins appeared in in Creighton history.
Matches Played
Name MP Year
1. Lauren Smith 136 2013-Pr.
2. Melanie Jereb 133 2012-15
3. Ashley Jansen 132 2012-15

Matches Started
Name MS Year
1. Lauren Smith 135 2013-Pr.
2. Megan Bober 128 2009-12
3. Allie Oelke 120 2007-10

Sets Played
Name SP Year
1. Lauren Smith 503 2013-Pr.
2. Megan Bober 480 2009-12
3. Melanie Jereb 471 2012-15

Most Wins, Appeared In As A Player
Wins Name Year
103 Lauren Smith 2013-Pres.
102 Melanie Jereb 2012-15
101 Ashley Jansen 2012-15

Assists A’Plenty
Creighton’s Lydia Dimke leads the BIG EAST and is 12th nationally with 11.39 assists per set. Should she maintain that mark, it’d be the best in school history since the shift to 25-point sets prior to the 2008 season.
Each of Creighton’s last 28 matches have been won by the team with more assists, and Creighton has not lost to a BIG EAST team when owning more assists since Nov. 16, 2013 at Seton Hall. Creighton leads the BIG EAST with 13.52 assists per set this season.

Dimke Named BIG EAST Player of the Week
Lydia Dimke was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on Monday, Nov. 7.
Dimke had a pair of double-doubles to pace Creighton on both ends of the floor as the Bluejays swept Butler and Xavier to tie a BIG EAST record for best league start in history at 14-0. The junior setter averaged 12.00 assists, 3.67 digs and 1.17 kills per set while hitting .400 and setting her offense to .379 efficiency.
Dimke had match-highs with both 36 assists and 12 digs while adding four kills in seven swings during a 3-0 sweep of Butler on Friday. She set the Bluejay offense to .415 hitting, the fifth-best mark in program history, and her defensive prowess helped hold a Butler team that led the nation in kills to just 25.
In Sunday’s 3-0 sweep of third-place Xavier, Dimke finished with a near-identical line. She had team-highs with 36 assists and 10 digs, and added four kills and an ace. Dimke set her offense to a .347 hitting percentage, but her best moments came in the second set. With Creighton trailing 17-11, Dimke served up five straight points to get CU within one. Later with CU up 23-22, Dimke provided a setter dump from the 10-foot line to key a 25-22 victory that help secure CU’s school-record 16th sweep of 2016.
Dimke’s performance over the weekend helped the Ham Lake, Minn., native move into the league lead in assists per set, as she also moved over the 1,000 assist milestone on Nov. 6th.

Creighton In Top 25
The Creighton Volleyball team was No. 21 in the final regular-season American Volleyball Coaches Association top-25 poll, and 17th in the Nov. 28 release of the NCAA Volleyball RPI.
The No. 21 ranking in the AVCA poll is the highest for the program since the program’s preseason ranking of No. 18 that remains the best mark in program history. The No. 21 mark also ties the team’s best poll rank ever for the final regular-season poll (also 2012).
The Bluejays are 31-9 all-time when ranked, including a 29-4 mark against unranked competition, with this being the 19th different time it has been in the top-25. The 2016 season is the fifth straight season that Creighton has been ranked, after never earning a top-25 nod between 1994-2011.
The volleyball team is one of three Creighton teams that are currently in the top-25 in the national polls, joining men’s basketball (No. 10) men’s soccer (No. 23). On a national basis, only Creighton, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Kentucky are ranked in those three sports.

Ballenger Is Ballin’
Redshirt freshman Megan Ballenger has 27 aces and just 19 service errors in her last 19 matches played.
Her 39 aces lead the BIG EAST Conference, as do her 0.38 aces per set.
In league play, Ballenger averaged an even better 0.52 aces per set, and her 25 aces were four more than any other woman in the BIG EAST.
Ballenger’s 39 aces are tied for sixth-most in Creighton history for one season, and her 0.404 aces per set would place her seventh in school history.
Service Aces
Name Sets No. Year
1. Molly Moran 105 59 2000
2. Molly Moran 94 47 2001
3. Melissa Weisensee 107 45 1995
Amanda Cvejdlik 116 45 2006
5. Nayka Benitez 115 43 2009
6. Allie Oelke 107 39 2007
Nayka Benitez 118 39 2010
Megan Ballenger 104 39 2016
9. Mallory Lahm 105 38 2004
10. JoDe Cieloha 99 37 1995

Service Aces Per Set (Min. 20 SA)
Name Sets No. Avg. Year
1. Molly Moran 105 59 0.562 2000
2. Molly Moran 94 47 0.500 2001
3. Melissa Weisensee 107 45 0.421 1995
4. Melissa Weisensee 86 35 0.407 1994
5. Amanda Cvejdlik 116 45 0.388 2006
6. Nayka Benitez 115 43 0.3739 2009
7. Megan Ballenger 104 39 0.375 2016
8. JoDe Cieloha 99 37 0.3737 1995
9. Allie Oelke 107 39 0.365 2007
10. Mallory Lahm 105 38 0.362 2004

Ballenger Earns Third Weekly Frosh Award
Megan Ballenger was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for the third time this season on October 31st.
The Ankeny, Iowa, product previously earned the award on September 12th and September 19th. She is one of five players in the BIG EAST to win multiple Freshman of the Week honors this fall, but the only player with three such honors.
Ballenger powered Creighton to an undefeated weekend by averaging 3.33 points, 2.17 kills, 1.67 blocks and 1.17 digs per set while hitting .500.
Ballenger’s week started with four kills, three blocks, two digs and an ace in a 3-0 win at Seton Hall. She then hit .727 with nine kills in 11 swings, five digs and a career-high seven blocks in a 3-0 win over St. John’s.
The redshirt freshman led BIG EAST play with 0.52 service aces per set and was 11th with a .318 hitting percentage.

The Champs Are Here
The Bluejays are back-to-back-to-back BIG EAST Tournament champions, the first repeat champs since Louisville won three straight from 2008-2010.
Creighton is 7-1 all-time in four appearances at the BIG EAST Championships, reaching the final each time.
Dating back to its Missouri Valley Conference days, this was Creighton’s 14th straight appearance in a league tournament after appearing in just 4-of-9 tournaments prior to Kirsten Bernthal Booth’s arrival.

Offensive Juggernaut
Creighton is third in the nation in kills per set (14.68), 10th nationally in assists per set (13.52) and 13h in hitting percentage (.276).
Last year Creighton finished the year ranked second in the nation in assists (1,774) and was third in kills (1,878) while hitting .248 to rank 47th nationally.

Sweep City
Creighton swept 14-of-18 BIG EAST matches, and has broken out the brooms in 21 contests overall this fall. In fact, in the month of November, Creighton swept 7-of-8 matches it has played, while the other 23 matches involving league teams saw just six end in three sets.
The 21 sweeps are the most in one season in Creighton history, eclipsing the 13 sweeps a year ago.
Even with its Nov. 20th five-set win, Creighton has swept 13 of its last 15 regular-season BIG EAST home matches, and won 48 of its last 51 home sets during conference play.
Creighton has played 70 regular-season BIG EAST matches in its four-year history in the league, and swept 37 of them, including 24 of its last 36.
Creighton’s pair of 3-0 victories in the BIG EAST Championship made the Bluejays the first team to win the title without dropping a set since Louisville in 2012.

Control In Conference
Creighton went 18-0 in BIG EAST play this season, winning 54-of-59 sets played. Creighton is one of eight teams in the country that went unbeaten in league play.
On a national basis, Creighton’s winning percentage in sets played during league action ranks fifth-best among the unbeaten teams.
Team League Sets W-L Next
Alabama State SWAC 54-3 Done
Florida A&M MEAC 30-2 Done
Howard MEAC 39-3 Done
Western Kentucky C-USA 42-4 Done
Creighton BIG EAST 54-5 Done
TAMU-CC Southland 48-6 Done
Fairfield MAAC 54-7 Done
Dayton A-10 42-7 Done

Blue October (And November)
Since the start of the 2012 season, Creighton has been a solid 39-21 in September, only to take it up a notch in October. CU is 39-4 in October in that same span, and an identical 39-4 in the month of November.
Creighton has won 21 straight home matches in the month of October dating to a Oct. 15, 2011 loss to No. 12 Northern Iowa.
Creighton has won 17 straight November matches, with seven of those wins coming in 2015.
Creighton finished 9-0 in October this year, its second unbeaten October in history (7-0 in 2012). The only other time that Creighton had played nine or more matches and gone unbeaten in any month came in November of 2012, when CU went 9-0.
The only other October in which CU had won nine or more matches came in 2015, when CU went 10-1.

Home At Home
Creighton was 12-1 at D.J. Sokol Arena this fall, with 12 straight wins, and has won 21 straight matches against BIG EAST competition there.
Below is a look at the program’s largest home win streaks in history.
Creighton’s Longest Home Win Streaks
Wins Dates Snapped By
13 Sept. 1, 2012 – Sept. 7, 2013 California, 3-0
12 Sept. 20 – Nov. 28, 2015 #4 Kansas, 3-2
12 Sept. 9, 2016 – Present ? ? ?
9 Sept. 20, 2014-Nov. 21, 2014 Seton Hall, 3-0
8 Sept. 25-Nov. 20, 2010 Northern Illinois, 3-0

Smith Adds A Weapon
Long known as one of the best middle hitters in the BIG EAST, fifth-year senior Lauren Smith is now showing off a new weapon behind the service line.
Smith entered Creighton’s Marquette match on October 22 with one ace in 123 career matches.
Since then, Smith has 10 aces in her last 13 matches played.

Another 20 Win Season
Creighton is 28-6 this year, securing 20 victories for the eighth time in the program’s modern history. This is the fifth straight year the Bluejays have reached 20 wins.
When Kirsten Bernthal Booth was hired in 2003, Creighton’s modern day school record for wins in a season was 16.
Creighton is one of 19 schools with five straight seasons of 20+ wins (including 2016), and are listed with their 2016 record entering the NCAA Tournament:
Team 2016 W-L Next Match
Western Kentucky 30-3 Done
Nebraska 29-2 12/9
BYU 29-3 12/9
North Carolina 29-3 12/9
Washington 28-4 12/9
Creighton 28-6 12/9
Kansas 27-3 Done
Florida 27-4 Done
American 27-8 Done
Florida State 26-5 12/9
Texas 24-4 12/9
Wichita State 24-8 Done
Penn State 24-9 12/9
Hawaii 23-6 Done
Stanford 23-7 12/9
Kentucky 23-8 Done
Marquette 23-9 Done
Colorado State 21-9 Done
UTSA 20-8 Done

Dimke Surpasses 1,000 Assists
Lydia Dimke reached 1,000 assists at Creighton in the Nov. 6 match vs. Xavier. It took her 26 matches and 88 sets played, third-fastest in team history behind a pair of setters who played in the era when sets were played to 30 points.
Creighton’s Quickest Players To 1,000 Assists (Career)
Name SP MP Date Opponent
Korie Lebeda 77 23 10/29/05 Missouri St.
Brittany Coleman 86 23 11/01/03 Northern Iowa
Lydia Dimke 88 26 11/06/16 Xavier
Kailey Reyes 97 27 09/04/99 Boise State
Maggie Baumert 103 32 11/29/14 vs. Seton Hall
Megan Bober 106 28 11/20/09 at #21 UNI
Melissa Weisensee 119 35 09/20/95 Wichita State
Michelle Sicner 267 72 10/04/13 at Butler

Any Venue Will Do
Since joining the BIG EAST, Creighton has a .500 record or better at every BIG EAST venue in which it has played.
Site Creighton W-L
D.J. Sokol Arena (CU) 50-10
Al McGuire Center (MU) 5-1
Hinkle Fieldhouse (BU) 5-1
Cintas Center (XU) 4-0
McGrath-Phillips Arena (DPU) 4-0
McDonough Arena (GU) 4-0
Carnesecca Arena (SJU) 4-0
Alumni Hall (PC) 3-0
Jake Nevin Field House (VU) 3-1
Walsh Gym (SHU) 2-2

Keeping It 100
Creighton had a perfect 100 percent sideout percentage in the third set of its October 16 sweep over Seton Hall. The Pirates served 18 times in that set, and CU won the point each time.
For the match, Creighton won the point on 38 of Seton Hall’s 46 serves, a tremendous 86.4 percent.
The match vs. Seton Hall is one of just six times in the last five years (627 sets played) that Creighton has had a 100 percent sideout percentage in a set, and first time since the second set of a 25-8 win over Lipscomb on Sept. 11, 2015. Creighton also did it in the fifth set vs. Villanova on Nov. 20th.

Witt Wins BIG EAST Award, Twice
Brittany Witt was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Oct. 10 after helping the Bluejays to road wins at Villanova and at Georgetown. Witt had 33 digs in seven sets and added three aces and a kill in the victories.
Witt then made it back-to-back weeks with the honor after picking up the award again on Oct. 17th. She averaged 4.33 digs and 1.83 assists per set in sweeps over St. John’s and Seton Hall.

Senior CLASS Award Duo
Creighton’s Jess Bird and Lauren Smith are among 30 women’s volleyball student-athletes who excel both on and off the court that were selected as candidates for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate volleyball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists later in the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2016 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in December.
Creighton is one of three schools with multiple candidates, joining Minnesota and New Hampshire. The BIG EAST has five candidates (Bird, Smith, Seton Hall’s Tessa Fournier, Xavier’s Abbey Bessler and Marquette’s Meghan Niemann), tying the Big Ten for most of any league.
Smith and Bird are not the first Creighton Volleyball student-athletes to make the Senior CLASS cut in recent seasons, as Melanie Jereb was a candidate last year, Kelli Browning in 2014 and Megan Bober in 2012. Former Creighton men’s soccer goalkeeper Brian Holt won the 2011 Senior CLASS Award on the pitch, while ex-Creighton men’s basketball standout Doug McDermott won the 2014 Senior CLASS Award on the hardwood.
Smith recently made the cut to be among the 10 finalists for the award. You can support her cause by voting once daily for her at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/volleyball_2016/.

Sweep City
Creighton owned 14 3-0 sweeps in 18 BIG EAST matches this season. Creighton’s four straight sweeps from Oct. 8-21 (Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, DePaul) were its first time with four straight sweeps since Oct. 12-26, 2012.
Creighton then had a school-record stretch of seven straight sweeps snapped on Nov. 20 by Villanova in a 3-2 Bluejay win.
Creighton’s 21 sweeps on the season are a program record, eight more than the 13 achieved last year.

A “Pablo” Picasso
One of the more popular volleyball ranking systems on RichKern.com is the Pablo ranking system, which is best described at http://www.richkern.com/vb/rankings/PabloFAQ.asp.
In the Pablo rankings on Selection Sunday, Creighton was 10th, the program’s best mark in team history.
By comparison, Creighton was 36th in last year’s Pablo rankings on Selection Sunday and got as high as 27th after its Sweet 16 run in the NCAA’s.
The previous high-water mark since 2011 had been 14th on Sept. 10 & 17, 2012, when CU finished 20th at year’s end.

Friday’s Are For The Jays
Creighton’s been unbeatable in 15 Friday matches this season, winning 45-of-48 sets it has played.
Of those 15 wins, five are against 2015 NCAA Tournament teams (Northern Iowa, TCU, Marquette, Villanova and Kansas), with Michigan looming this week.
In those 15 matches, Creighton has hit a robust .322 while holding foes to .151 hitting. Creighton averages 15.48 kills per set, compared to 10.54 per set against the Jays. On the other six days of the week this season, Creighton has hit .246 and averaged 14.14 kills per set while allowing opponents to hit .184.
Creighton has hit .299 or better in 11 of its last 14 matches played on a Friday, and owns 92 straight wins (on all days of the week) when hitting .300 or better.

Home Sweet Home
Creighton is 34-2 all-time (.944) in regular-season BIG EAST play at D.J. Sokol Arena, falling once each to St. John’s (2013) and Seton Hall (2014).
Since D.J. Sokol Arena opened in 2009, Creighton is 65-7 (.903) all-time in regular-season conference matches in the facility, including 19 straight victories.
Creighton has won all seven meetings with St. John’s since that 2013 upset, and all six encounters versus Seton Hall since dropping the home match in 2014.

Smith Surges Past 1,000 Kills
Lauren Smith registered the 1,000th kill of her career late in the first set of an Oct. 7 at Villanova. She became the 11th player in CU history to reach the milestone, and it came in her 119th career contest.
Smith enters this weekend with 1,40 career kills, seventh-most in Bluejay history.
Creighton’s Quickest Players To 1,000 Kills (Career)
Name MP Date Opponent
Melissa Walsh 70 10/15/00 Eastern Illinois
Leah Ratzlaff 76 10/22/04 Missouri State
JoDe Cieloha 83 09/13/97 at Drake
Kelly Goc 87 11/24/06 vs. Northern Iowa
Jessica Houts 90 11/08/08 Illinois State
Leah McNary 96 09/12/14 Pepperdine
Amanda Cvejdlik 99 11/15/08 at Evansville
Shelly Kapler 103 11/18/99 vs. Missouri St.
Allie Oelke 107 10/09/10 Wichita State
Kelli Browning 110 10/26/14 DePaul
Lauren Smith 119 10/07/16 at Villanova

Smith Seeks Passes Blocks, Too
Lauren Smith enters Friday’s match with 554 career blocks, third-most in Creighton history behind Jessica Houts and Kelli Browning.
Among active players nationally, Smith’s 554 career total blocks rank eighth.
Total Blocks
Name Sets BS BA Tot. Years
1. Jessica Houts 451 73 536 609 2005-09
2. Kelli Browning 424 55 547 602 2011-14
3. Lauren Smith 503 60 494 554 2013-Pr.
4. Ashley Williams 359 100 347 447 2001-04

Revenge Acquired
Since the start of last season, Creighton is 39-1 against BIG EAST competition, with the lone loss coming last year at Villanova.
In that contest, Creighton saved six match points before ultimately losing a 19-17 decision in the fifth set. The match featured 37 ties and 15 lead changes.
Creighton won the rematch four weeks later with a 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 dismantling of the Wildcats in the BIG EAST Championship finals. VU never led by more than one point in the rematch.
Creighton is one of nine teams nationally with one or fewer losses against league teams since the start of last year, as seen below.
Team League W-L Next
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 38-0 Done
Dayton 32-0 Done
Creighton 39-1 Done
Arkansas State 36-1 Done
Western Kentucky 36-1 Done
American 35-1 Done
Hawaii 31-1 Done
Coastal Carolina 31-1 Done
Howard 28-1 Done

Dimke Dominating
Creighton’s Lydia Dimke leads the BIG EAST and is 12th nationally with 11.39 assists per set. Should she maintain that mark, it’d be the best in school history since the shift to 25-point sets prior to the 2008 season.
Dimke’s season has also attracted the attention of the experts nationally. She was recently named one of college volleyball’s five best transfers by PrepVolleyball.com, and also one of the nation’s 10 best setters by FloVolleyball.tv.
Each of Creighton’s last 28 matches have been won by the team with more assists, and Creighton has not lost to a BIG EAST team when owning more assists since Nov. 16, 2013 at Seton Hall. Creighton leads the BIG EAST and ranks eighth nationally with 13.52 assists per set this season.

Booth On The Road
Kirsten Bernthal Booth owns 105 career true road wins in her 14 seasons at Creighton, reaching the century mark with a 3-0 win at Georgetown on Oct. 8th.
Booth’s teams are currently 105-70 in true road matches, including an 85-39 mark in league contests. Booth is 29-5 in BIG EAST road matches all-time.

Smith Named Player of the Week
Senior Lauren Smith was named BIG EAST Player of the Week on Sept. 26. It was Smith’s first BIG EAST Player of the Week honor in 2016, and second of her career (Oct. 5, 2015).
A Lincoln, Neb., native, Smith hit .553 while averaging 3.64 points, 3.29 kills and 0.57 blocks per set in a pair of victories.
The preseason All-BIG EAST selection started her week with 10 kills in 17 swings, hitting a season-best .588 in a sweep of a Marquette team that was just outside the top-25. She then had a season-high 13 kills on .524 hitting, adding four blocks in a 3-1 win over DePaul.

Let’s Get It Started
Creighton had its third straight start of 5-0 or better in league play after this fall’s 18-0 league mark. It’s the first time in program history that Creighton has won its first 12 (or more) league matches in a season.
Below is a list of Creighton’s best starts in conference play all-time:
Start League Year Final W-L Final Place
18-0 BIG EAST 2016 18-0 1st
11-0 BIG EAST 2015 17-1 1st
7-0 MVC 2007 14-4 T-2nd
5-0 MVC 2006 12-6 4th
5-0 MVC 2011 12-6 4th
5-0 BIG EAST 2014 16-2 1st

Let’s Compare
Let’s take a look at how Creighton’s team in 2016 compares to how its first three league champions (2012, 2014, 2015) fared:
Stat 2016 2015 2014 2012
Final W-L ? ? ? 27-9 23-9 29-4
Postseason NCAA NCAA NCAA NCAA
Selec. Sun. RPI 17 15 24 26
Kills/Set 14.68 14.01 14.15 13.39
Hitting % .276 .248 .235 .247
Aces/Set 1.39 1.16 1.14 1.24
Digs/Set 16.03 16.57 16.62 17.32
Blocks/Set 2.15 2.39 2.66 3.06

Against The BIG EAST
Since the BIG EAST was restructured in 2013, Creighton owns a .500 record or better against each of the other teams currently in the BIG EAST.
The Bluejays finished 2016 with 70 wins against BIG EAST competition (including BIG EAST Championship play) since 2013, 14 more wins than Marquette for most in the league.
Creighton is 7-3 against Seton Hall since joining the BIG EAST, and 61-5 against everyone else, including unbeaten records against Xavier (11-0), DePaul (8-0), Georgetown (8-0) and Providence (6-0).
Opponent Reg. Season BE Tourney Total
Butler 7-1 – 7-1
DePaul 8-0 – 8-0
Georgetown 8-0 – 8-0
Marquette 7-1 1-1 8-2
Providence 6-0 – 6-0
Seton Hall 5-3 2-0 7-3
St. John’s 7-1 – 7-1
Villanova 7-1 1-0 8-1
Xavier 8-0 3-0 11-0
Total 61-7 7-1 68-8

On A Roll
Creighton won its last six regular-season BIG EAST matches in 2015 and extended that streak to 24 straight with 18 consecutive BIG EAST wins this fall.
That is the longest league win streak of regular-season matches in program history.
Nationally, only four teams have active steaks of 28 or more straight victories against conference foes (including league tournament play), a streak led by Dayton (42).
Creighton – Most Consecutive Regular-Season League Wins
Wins Dates Snapped By League
24 Oct. 31, 2015-Present (not yet) BIG EAST
14 Sept. 29, 2012 – End of 2012 Never (left MVC) MVC
12 Sept. 20-Oct. 25, 2015 at Villanova, 3-2 BIG EAST
11 Oct. 11-Nov. 21, 2014 Seton Hall, 3-0 BIG EAST
9 Nov. 4, 2005-Sept. 30, 2006 Northern Iowa, 3-2 MVC
9 Nov. 17, 2006-Oct. 6, 2007 at Wichita State, 3-0 MVC
9 Oct. 25, 2008-Sept. 18, 2009 Northern Iowa, 3-1 MVC

Service Winners
One reason for Creighton’s recent success has been its efficiency at the service line. The Bluejays have 120 aces and just 137 errors in its last 21 matches over the span of 1,711 serving attempts, putting 92.0 percent of its serves in play.
By comparison, Creighton had 47 aces and 120 service errors in 1099 service attempts in the first 13 matches, keeping just 89.1 percent of its serves in play.
Three newcomers — Megan Ballenger, Lydia Dimke and Brittany Witt — have combined for 58 aces and 73 miscues in 781 serves (90.7 percent in play) in the last 21 matches after combining for had 26 aces and 76 errors in 508 serves (85.0 percent in play) during those first 13 contests.

Ace Of Jays
Taryn Kloth has served 293 times over the past 26 matches. In that time, she has 12 aces and just 13 serving errors. Kloth had a streak of 140 straight serves kept in play between Sept. 10 vs. Chattanooga and October 14 vs. St. John’s
For the season, Kloth has 16 service aces and just 16 serving errors in 383 attempts (95.8%).

Service With A Smile
Creighton served up a season-high 12 aces against DePaul on Sept. 26 and countered that with a then-season-low four serving errors.
The +8 ace/error differential against DePaul ranks tied for fifth-greatest since the program’s 1994 restart, and was the best since a +10 (12 aces, 2 errors) disparity at DePaul on Oct. 3, 2014.
Diff. Aces Errors Opponent Date
+11 15 4 vs. NE Illinois 9/23/95
+10 12 2 at DePaul 10/3/14
+9 12 3 at Evansville 10/7/94
+9 15 6 UMKC 11/12/95
+8 13 5 at New Mexico 9/4/04
+8 12 4 DePaul 9/25/16

Not Middling Around
Creighton middle blockers Lauren Smith and Marysa Wilkinson have been on an absolute terror over the past 25 matches, which coincides with a visit to their hometown of Lincoln, Neb., for the Ameritas Players Challenge.
Smith owns 2.39 kills per set and a .366 hitting percentage in that time, while also adding 0.94 blocks per set.
Wilkinson leads CU with 0.96 blocks per set in that time, while also averaging 2.49 kills per set on .360 hitting.
Creighton is 24-1 in this stretch, with the lone loss being a four-set match at No. 1 Nebraska, while hitting .298 as a team in that span.

Aced That Test
Megan Ballenger went back to serve 28 times on Sept. 25 vs. DePaul, with Creighton winning an astounding 21 of those points.
Ballenger served up six aces in the match — tied for sixth in CU history for a single match — and did not have a service error.
She’s one of three players in CU history with six or more aces in a match, joining Kelli Koochi (7 aces at Indiana State on 10/19/01) and JoDe Cieloha (6 aces vs. Northeastern Illinois on 9/23/95).
Ballenger’s six aces were two shy of Carolyn Decker’s single-match record that was set in 2004, and the most by a Bluejay since Michelle Sicner had seven aces vs. McNeese State on Sept. 17, 2011.

Dueling Aces
Creighton had 12 aces on Sept. 25 vs. DePaul, while also surrendering 10 aces to the Blue Demons.
The 22 combined aces were the most in a Creighton match since Nov. 15, 2002, when Drake had 17 and Creighton had five. That match was the second-to-last before Kirsten Bernthal Booth took over.
The match vs. DePaul also marked the first time since Nov. 4, 2000 that both teams had 10 or more aces in the same match. Creighton and Evansville both had 10 service winners in that 2000 contest.

Wilkinson’s Huge Night
Marysa Wilkinson hit .786 on Sept. 16th in Creighton’s win over Montana State, finishing with 12 kills and one error in 14 swings. She added a career-high eight blocks in the sweep.
The .786 hitting percentage is second-best in program history by a Bluejay with at least 12 kills, trailing only Lauren Smith’s .857 (12-0-14) against Providence in 2014.
Wilkinson was on pace to hit a school-record .923 before her final swing of the match landed inches wide.
Best Attack Percentage (Min. 12 kills)
.857 Lauren Smith (12-0-14) vs. Providence 10-19-14
.786 Marysa Wilkinson (12-1-14) vs. Montana St. 09-16-16
.750 Katy Grady (12-0-16) vs. Auburn 8-30-03
.750 Abby Baumann (12-0-16) at San Diego St. 9-3-05
.737 Lauren Bloemke (14-0-19) vs. Evansville 11-4-07
.733 Lauren Smith (12-1-15) vs. Villanova 11-24-13
.722 Lauren Smith (14-1-18) vs. DePaul 10-9-15
.714 Amanda Cvejdlik (15-0-21) vs. Drake 10-3-08
.684 Kelli Browning (14-1-19) vs. So. Illinois 10-27-12

Challenging Schedules So Far
The NCAA website tracks the nation’s toughest schedules played through Nov. 30th.
Creighton’s opponents were 380-237, and that .616 winning percentage makes it the 17th-toughest nationally.
Last year Creighton faced the nation’s eighth-toughest schedule per the NCAA, with foes going 466-260 (.642) overall.

Ballenger Repeats BIG EAST Honor
Megan Ballenger was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on both Sept. 12th & 19th. Ballenger, a redshirt freshman from Ankeny, Iowa, averaged 3.30 points, 2.50 kills, 1.30 digs, 0.80 blocks and 0.40 aces per set while helping Creighton to a 2-1 record at the Ameritas Players Challenge.
Ballenger had kills on her first seven swings of a 3-0 sweep over once-beaten Gonzaga, finishing with 13 kills, five digs, four assists, two blocks and a career-high three aces. She also hit a dominating .579 in the match.
Ballenger contributed six kills, four blocks and three digs on .357 hitting in CU’s 3-0 blanking of Montana State in CU’s second match that day.
She closed the weekend with six kills, five digs, two blocks and an ace at No. 1 Nebraska. Ballenger served during a 3-0 run as Creighton rallied from a 21-18 deficit late in the first set of an eventual 25-23 Bluejay victory that snapped NU’s 24-set win streak.

Ankeny – Home of the BIG EAST’s Best Frosh
Creighton’s Jaali Winters and Megan Ballenger were teammates in high school for a bit, and have reunited to win big at the college ranks.
Combined, the duo from Ankeny, Iowa, have won nine of the last 24 BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honors. Winters won six times in the final 11 weeks of 2015, while Ballenger won three of 13 awards this fall.

Home Sweet Home
Creighton went 9-0 at home last season in BIG EAST play, the second time (joining 2012) in the last four years it was unbeaten at home in league play.
Creighton is 65-7 (.903) in regular-season conference home matches at D.J. Sokol Arena all-time, including a 34-2 mark (.944) against BIG EAST competition. St. John’s (in 2013) and Seton Hall (in 2014) own the only victories against CU.
The Bluejays have had a winning record in conference home matches each of the last 12 seasons. That streak that dates back to its days at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, a site that is currently being torn down.

Select Company
Creighton is one of just 10 schools nationally who have won 23 games or more in each of the last five seasons (including 2016). That group consists of BYU, Creighton, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, Washington and Western Kentucky.
Creighton is also one of 21 teams to have appeared in each of the last five NCAA Tournaments (including 2016). That group features BYU, Colorado State, Creighton, Florida, Florida State, Hawaii, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, USC and Washington.
Throw in five straight NCAA Tournament bids to that group of teams with five straight 23-win seasons and the group narrows to nine teams: That group consists of BYU, Creighton, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, Texas and Washington.

Set 1 Result = Match Result
Creighton is 241-28 (.896) overall under Kirsten Bernthal Booth when it wins set one. In that same time span, CU is just 49-124 (.283) under Booth when it drops the first set.
Since Aug. 29, 2010, Creighton has gone 70-1 in its last 71 home matches when taking a 1-0 lead, losing only on Sept. 12, 2015 to Pacific.
In 2014 Creighton was 20-2 when winning the first set and 5-7 when dropping the opener. Last year’s team was 21-2 when winning the first set but 6-7 when it fell behind after the first set.
This year’s team is 24-4 when winning the first set, but 4-2 when losing the first set.

Dimke’s Rare 40/20
Purdue transfer Lydia Dimke opened her Creighton career with 41 assists and 20 digs against Wichita State on Aug. 27th.
Not only did that make Dimke the sixth player in program history with a double-double in her debut, but it also made her the sixth player in program history with at least 20 assists and 20 digs in the same match.
Dimke was the first player with a 20 assist/20 dig contest since Michelle Sicner (44A, 21D) on Nov. 29, 2013.
There have been 20 overall 20/20 performances in CU history, including seven each by Melissa Weisensee (1994-97) and Kailey Reyes (1998-2001).
Dimke became the second player in CU’s modern history (since 1994) with a double-double in each of her first two career matches, joining Brittany Coleman in 2003. Coleman had three straight double-doubles to open her career.

Season-Opening No. 18 Was A Program Best
Creighton started the season ranked No. 18 in the AVCA Coaches poll. It was the highest ranking in program history for any week, one spot better than the No. 19 spot it attained twice, including the final poll of 2015.
Being ranked in the preseason poll is no guarantee of future success, however. In the previous eight seasons, only 144-of-200 teams (72 percent) would be in both the preseason and postseason AVCA Top 25 polls.
In the last nine years (including 2016), all but 22 teams named in the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll would go on to reach the NCAA Tournament (90.2 percent).
Creighton dropped four spots to No. 22 in the Aug. 29 AVCA poll, before falling out of the poll on Sept. 5.

Survival of the Fittest
Creighton has won eight matches under Kirsten Bernthal Booth after surviving an opponent’s match point. Three of those comeback wins have come against Wichita State.
On the other hand, Creighton is 290-2 under Booth when it reaches a match point opportunity, falling only when it wasted two match points on Sept. 4, 2010 to Iowa and two other match points on Nov. 1, 2013 in a loss to St. John’s.
Surviving Match Points, Under Booth
Date Opponent MP(s) Faced Final Set 5
08/30/03 vs. McNeese State 13-14, 15-16 18-16
10/10/03 Wichita State 13-14 16-14
10/13/06 at Wichita State 12-14, 13-14, 14-15 17-15
09/11/07 at Drake 13-14, 14-15 17-15
08/26/11 vs. UTSA 12-14, 13-14 16-14
11/16/12 at Wichita State 13-14 16-14
09/20/15 Kansas State 23-24 (4th set) 15-13
11/20/15 at Georgetown 23-24, 26-27 (4th set) 15-7

2-0 Better Than 0-2
Creighton is 246-9 (.965) all-time when leading a match 2-0, including a 189-3 mark under Kirsten Bernthal Booth. CU’s streak of 94 straight wins when up 2-0, dating to September of 2009, was snapped in the Aug. 27 season-opener vs. Wichita State.
Conversely, the Jays are 12-187 (.060) all-time when trailing a match 0-2, but did have three comeback victories in 2015. CU also rallied from down 0-2 at Butler on Nov. 8, 2014.
Those 12 comebacks from down 0-2 are listed below.
Date Opponent Sets 3-5 scores Coach
09/19/97 at Bradley 15-11, 15-13, 15-8 Wallace
10/01/99 at Drake 15-6, 17-15, 15-11 Wallace
09/03/04 vs. Montana 30-20, 30-21, 15-11 Booth
10/15/04 at Bradley 30-22, 30-23, 15-11 Booth
10/15/05 at So. Illinois 30-25, 30-24, 15-8 Booth
09/21/07 at No. Iowa 31-29, 30-26, 15-12 Booth
11/16/12 at Wichita St. 25-16, 25-20, 16-14 Booth
09/05/14 vs. No. Iowa 25-16, 25-22, 15-5 Booth
11/08/14 at Butler 25-16, 25-20, 15-13 Booth
09/20/15 Kansas State 25-23, 26-24, 15-13 Booth
10/09/15 DePaul 25-21, 25-12, 15-11 Booth
11/20/15 at Georgetown 30-28, 26-24, 15-7 Booth

BIG EAST Preseason Poll
For the fourth straight season, Creighton was picked to win the BIG EAST Conference in a preseason poll of league coaches.
CU was a unanimous choice and received 81 points in the poll and all nine possible first-place votes. Marquette was picked second while Xavier, Villanova and Butler rounded out the top half of the poll.
Creighton also had three women named to the 12 member on the BIG EAST’s preseason all-conference team, as Jess Bird, Lauren Smith and Jaali Winters were all honored. Winters was selected as Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year.
Creighton has finished in the spot predicted of them or better in the preseason poll in 12 of the past 14 years (including 2016), including seven years (including 2016) where it’s finished exactly where it was predicted.
Year Preseason Pick Finish Move
1994 11th 9th #2
1995 9th 7th #2
1996 9th 6th #3
1997 8th 3rd #5
1998 6th 8th i2
1999 T-7th 5th #2
2000 4th T-4th – –
2001 2nd 4th i2
2002 7th 9th i2
2003 9th T-5th #4
2004 5th 5th – –
2005 5th 5th – –
2006 4th 4th – –
2007 3rd T-2nd #1
2008 3rd 2nd #1
2009 4th T-4th – –
2010 4th 3rd #1
2011 3rd 4th i1
2012 4th 1st #3
2013 1st T-2nd i1
2014 1st 1st – –
2015 1st 1st – –
2016 1st 1st – –

Offensive Production Returns
Creighton ranked among the nation’s most potent offensive teams last year. The Bluejays ranked third in the nation in kills, and return 94.7 percent of those terminations.
Creighton also finished second nationally in assists in 2015, fifth in attack attempts and sixth in digs.
In all, Creighton returns 11-of-16 letterwinners to the court from last season, including four starters. Below is a breakdown of the production that is back:
Stat Returners Departures
Kills 1779 (94.7%) 99 (5.3%)
Points 2122.0 (90.2%) 231.5 (9.8%)
Blocks 275 (85.8%) 45.5 (14.2%)
Matches Started 132 (73.3%) 48 (26.7%)
Digs 992 (44.7%) 1229 (55.3%)
Aces 68 (43.9%) 87 (56.1%)
Assists 548 (30.9%) 1226 (69.1%)

Last Year Summary
Last year’s Creighton team finished 27-9 and won the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles. Creighton earned the No. 16 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it defeated Coastal Carolina and No. 23 North Carolina, to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time. The Bluejays ended the year with a No. 14 RPI and a No. 19 spot in the final AVCA poll.
Maggie Baumert, Lauren Smith and Jaali Winters were named First Team All-BIG EAST, with Winters also being named a Third-Team All-American by the AVCA, AVCA East Freshman of the Year and BIG EAST Freshman of the Year. Jess Bird was a second-team all-league choice and was named MVP of the BIG EAST Championship.
Defensively, Kate Elman led Creighton in digs and became the school’s all-time leader in the category, and also topped the club in aces.

2015 Season Highlights
The 2015 season was one full of highlights for Creighton. Consider the following…
-Creighton won a pair of NCAA Tournament matches for the first time in any year, advancing to its first Sweet 16.
-Creighton defeated No. 23 North Carolina to win the Chapel Hill sub-Regional, its first true road victory over a ranked team in 32 tries.
-Creighton owned an NCAA RPI of 14 in the year-end official rankings.
-Creighton was voted 19th in the final AVCA coaches poll, matching the program’s best weekly ranking ever (at the time). It was also the fourth straight season (at the time) CU has been ranked in the top-25 during at least one week.
-Creighton won the BIG EAST Conference, the nation’s seventh-best league, by three full games in the standings.
-Creighton won the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship for the second straight year, beating a pair of eventual NCAA Tournament teams in the process.
-Creighton won 22 of its last 24 matches, and was 26-5 after starting the season 1-4.
-Creighton ranked tied for 15th nationally in victories and 20th in road victories last season.
-Creighton was the nation’s only team to play five top-11 teams in pre-conference play. No one else played more than three. Creighton’s non-conference schedule was ranked as the nation’s third-toughest.
-Creighton swept the nation’s No. 10 team, Kentucky, on Sept. 5 on a neutral floor.
-Creighton owned eight top-50 RPI wins last season, which was tied for 10th in the nation.
-Creighton owned 11 wins in 2015 against teams that made the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
-Creighton was honored with the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year, while Jaali Winters was a unanimous pick as BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
-Kirsten Bernthal Booth was named East Region Coach of the Year, while Jaali Winters was named AVCA East Region Freshman of the Year.