#21 Creighton Volleyball Ready For NCAA Tournament Showdown With #4 Kansas

Posted By: Sports

sports@klkntv.com

Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

2016 NCAA Tournament – Second Round
Dec. 2 6:30 pm Creighton at #4 Kansas (ESPN3) Lawrence, Kan.
Match to be played at Horejsi Family Athletics Center

• No. 21 Creighton (27-6) takes on fourth-ranked and fifth-seeded Kansas (27-2) on Friday night at 6:30 pm Central with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line. It’s a rematch of the Sept. 8 battle in Omaha, won by Kansas in five sets (25-21, 23-25, 21-25, 28-26, 15-13).
That contest is one of just 10 matches that Creighton has lost in the last 14 years when leading 2-1.

• Thursday’s Creighton/Kansas match will be streamed on ESPN3.com, with live stats available at http://creighton.statbroadcast.com.

• Creighton advanced to the Round of 32 with a 3-2 win (25-16, 25-20, 24-26, 25-14, 15-12) over Northern Iowa. The Jayhawks swept Samford (25-19, 25-21, 25-17) to reach the Second Round.

• Kansas leads the series 8-1 since Creighton reinstated volleyball in 1994. The Jayhawks have won all five match-ups in Lawrence. Creighton’s lone win in the series came on Sept. 10, 2013, when Creighton picked up a 3-1 win over KU in Omaha. Current Bluejay seniors Jess Bird (8 kills, 7 digs, 4 blocks, 1 ace) and Lauren Smith (10 kills, 9 blocks, 3 digs) both started in the victory.

• Creighton had numerous season and/or career-highs in Thursday’s win over Kansas. Marysa Wilkinson had a career-high 18 kills. Brittany Witt had a career-high 32 digs, while Kenzie Crawford had a career-high 17 digs. Jaali Winters had a season-high 24 kills and season-high four blocks and tied a season-best with 66 attack attempts. Amanda Foje tied a season-high with one ace, the 10th time she’s had one this fall.

• Jaali Winters has played in four career NCAA Tournament matches, and set a Creighton record for kills in an NCAA Tournament match in three of them. She had 20 in her NCAA debut last year vs. Coastal Carolina, breaking the previous mark of 17 set by Alicia Runge and Leah McNary. Winters then had 21 one night later in a win at North Carolina, then upped the mark to 24 on Thursday.

• Thursday’s win improved Creighton to 6-5 all-time in six NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 5-1 mark in the First Round. Creighton is 1-3 all-time in Second Round appearances, but won its most recent attempt last fall at North Carolina in four sets. Creighton is 0-1 all-time against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, losing in four sets (25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21) at Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 7, 2013.

• With a win on Friday, Creighton would advance to its second Sweet 16 in program history, and second consecutive. Creighton would also become the first team to win consecutive sub-Regionals on the road since BYU turned the trick in 2013 and 2014.

• The No. 5 national seed (like Kansas) has advanced to the Sweet 16 in 12 of the last 15 seasons. The last time a No. 5 national seed did not advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament was in 2013, when Florida was beaten by Florida State in five sets in Gainesville.

• Creighton’s 21-match win streak is tied with Western Kentucky for the second-longest active streak in the nation. Only Fairfield (22) is longer. Creighton’s 21-match win streak is a school-record, four more than the previous mark set in 2012.

• Northern Iowa entered Thursday’s 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. Creighton has won the digs battle in 19 of the 21 matches during its current winning streak.

• Creighton improved to 2-3 in five-set matches this season with Thursday’s win. The Bluejays are now 46-26 under Kirsten Bernthal Booth in five-set contests, including a 5-4 mark against UNI. Five of CU’s eight all-time wins over UNI have come in five sets. Creighton is 0-1 all-time in five-setters against Kansas.

• Jaali Winters stepped up in a big way on Thursday, finishing with 24 kills and 12 digs. It was the All-American’s 10th double-double in 17 matches this season against a team with a top-75 RPI, compared to just one double-double in 16 matches against teams with an RPI worse than 76.
Winters is averaging 3.91 kills and 3.11 digs per set in 17 matches against top-75 foes this fall.

• With a win, Creighton will have reached the Sweet 16 in both men’s soccer and women’s volleyball for the second straight season. Last year Creighton and Ohio State were the only two schools that accomplished that. The only other volleyball schools that have a still chance to do join their men’s soccer program in the Sweet 16 this year are Creighton, North Carolina, Stanford and Washington.

• Prior to Creighton last fall, no BIG EAST team had reached the Sweet 16 since St. John’s made it in 2007. Creighton is 41-1 in its last 42 matches against the BIG EAST.

• Lauren Smith extended her school-records for career matches played (135), starts (134) and sets played (498) on Thursday, while tying the mark by playing in her 102nd career victory. Creighton is 131-37 since Smith enrolled at Creighton in 2012 with four regular-season conference titles, four conference tournament titles, five NCAA Tournament victories and five NCAA Tournament bids.

• Dating back to early last season, Creighton Volleyball is 8-1 in the match following a five-set contest.

• Creighton is 14-0 this season on Friday’s, winning 42-of-43 sets. Creghton has hit .331 on Friday’s while averaging 15.74 kills per set and hit .299 or better in 11 of those matches.

• Creighton improved to 241-28 all-time under Kirsten Bernthal Booth when winning set one, including a 24-4 mark this season. By contrast, Creighton is 48-124 under Booth overall and 3-2 this year when losing the opening set. The set one winner has won all nine previous CU/KU matches.

• Creighton squandered two match points in the third set on Thursday, but still improved to 189-3 all-time under Kirsten Bernthal Booth when leading a match 2-0. Creighton is also 289-2 all-time under Booth when owning a match point. On the other hand, CU has 10 wins under Booth when trailing 0-2, and has survived a match point to win eight times.

• Creighton improved to 30-9 all-time as a ranked team with Thursday’s win. The Bluejays are ranked No. 21 in the AVCA poll.

• Creighton is 5-66 all-time against top-25 teams.
Creighton is winless in 13 all-time matches against top-five opposition, winning a total of four sets in those contests. Creighton won the opening set against No. 1 Nebraska in both 2007 and 2016, and lost a five-setter to No. 4 Kansas on Sept. 8 in Omaha.
Creighton is also 1-26 all-time against the top-10, with the lone win coming on Sept. 5, 2015 against No. 10 Kentucky in a match played at Northern Iowa.
Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 5-50 at Creighton against top-25 teams, including a 1-23 road mark. The lone win came in the Second Round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at No. 23 North Carolina.

• Creighton’s 5-66 mark against ranked teams includes a 2-4 record in the postseason. Creighton beat No. 16 Iowa State in the First Round in 2010, and last year won at No. 23 North Carolina in the Second Round. In those six matches against ranked foes, CU has won a total of nine sets and been swept just once (2012 at No. 12 Minnesota in the Second Round).

• Creighton is 1-5 all-time as a ranked team when facing another ranked team. However, the Bluejays have won eight sets in those matches, including a 3-1 win over then-No. 13 BYU to open the 2013 season.

• Creighton’s 27 victories this season are tied for second-most in program history for a single campaign, matching the output of last year’s Sweet 16 team that finished 27-9. Only the 2012 team that went 29-4 has more.

• Creighton is hitting .277 this season and will almost certainly shatter the program’s existing record for hitting percentage in a season of .248 done last year.

• Creighton will seek to snap a 17-match home win streak by Kansas, which ranks fourth-longest nationally. The Jayhawks are 28-1 at home since the start of last season, falling only in a five-set contest to Texas last fall. Creighton has also been dominant at home in the past two seasons, winning 24 of its last 25 contests, with the lone setback coming earlier this fall to Kansas, also in five sets.

• Friday will mark Creighton’s fifth match this fall against a Big 12 opponent. The Bluejays have alternated wins and losses in those contests, and are due for a win if that pattern holds. Creighton beat Iowa State (3-1) and TCU (3-0), and lost to Kansas (3-2) and Kansas State (3-1).
Jaali Winters has averaged 4.06 kills and 3.38 digs per set against the Big 12 this year, with Taryn Kloth (3.08 kps., .287%) not far behind.

• Kansas won the serve-and-pass battle the first time the teams met this season, as the Jayhawks claimed an 8-3 lead in the ace column. The Bluejays, however, have improved that area greatly in recent weeks. Creighton has been aced just once in 219 serve receptions over the past three matches, with Samantha Bohnet and Brittany Witt perfect in a combined 105 of those chances.

• Creighton will find itself in an unfamiliar position on the scoreboard on Friday…as the visitor on the scoreboard.
The Bluejays were home each of its final six games of the regular-season, were the ‘home’ team on a neutral floor as the top seed in two contests at the BIG EAST Championship, and were ‘home’ again on Thursday vs. Northern Iowa on a neutral floor. The last time Creighton was the ‘visiting’ team was October 29th.

• The winner of Friday’s Creighton/Kansas match will advance to a Regional to be held next Friday and Saturday at a site and time to be determined late Saturday evening by the NCAA.
The CU/KU victor will face the winner of Friday night’s match between Oregon and 12th-seeded Michigan that also starts at 6:30 pm Central and is being contested in Ann Arbor, Mich.