No. 21 Creighton Volleyball Advances to Sweet 16 with Five-Set Victory Over No. 4 Kansas

Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: Creighton Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The No. 21 Creighton volleyball team extended its winning streak to 22 matches and advanced to the Sweet 16 for a second consecutive season with a 3-2 victory over No. 4 Kansas in the Second Round of the 2016 NCAA Volleyball Tournament in Lawrence, Kan., on Friday.

Scores of the match in favor of Creighton were 21-25, 25-20, 25-17, 16-25, 20-18 in front of a sold out 1,302 in attendance at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Creighton improves to 28-6, while Kansas finishes its season at 27-3. The win was the first home loss of the season for Kansas, and also its first setback in nine matches to go five sets.

With the victory, the Bluejays advance to the regional round of the tournament and will play 12th-seeded Michigan at a location to be determined in the Round of 16 on Friday, Dec. 9.

Both teams opened the match nearly even, as neither squad led by more than two through the first 25 points. Kansas built a six-point advantage, 19-13, with a 7-2 run and forced Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth to use the Bluejays’ first timeout of the match. The Bluejays refused to let the Jayhawks control the set, and Megan Ballenger’s first kill of the night capped a 5-1 Creighton run, to pull within two, 22-20. Creighton saved one set-point with Jaali Winters’ fifth kill of the opening frame before Kansas took a 25-21 first-set victory. Kelsie Payne led the Jayhawks with six kills, including the final four points for host Kansas. Madison Rigdon opened the match with five kills in six swings. Creighton hit .205 in the first race to 25.

Winters and Payne continued where they left off in the first to start the second set, trading a pair of kills, before the Bluejays used a 5-1 run to take a 6-2 advantage, and never lost the lead.

Creighton opened a 9-3 advantage with five kills on seven attacks to take early control.

Behind the serving of Addison Barry, including a pair of aces, Kansas cut the Bluejays’ lead to 19-16, but Creighton evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-20 victory in the second frame.

After having zero service aces in the first set, the Bluejays reeled off three during the first half of the second frame and finished with four, led by Brittany Witt’s two. Creighton also hit .323 in the second set to tie the match.

The Bluejays built off their momentum from the second frame and controlled the third while never trailing on their way to a 25-17 victory. Creighton grabbed its largest lead at nine, 22-13, following a service ace by Lydia Dimke, the Bluejays seventh of the match. Winters put the set away with her 7th kill of the frame and 16th overall as the Jays had 15 kills and hit .414 during the third set.

After dropping two consecutive sets, Kansas opened up the fourth set with a 5-0 lead behind the serving of senior libero Cassie Wait. The Bluejays battled back into the frame, only to see the Jayhawks go on a 5-1 run to take a 15-7 advantage.

Kansas never trailed and forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-16 fourth-frame win. The Bluejays hit a match-low .111 as no individual player had more than two kills.

Creighton opened the serving in the final set and took a 2-0 lead behind an attack error and a kill by Marysa Wilkinson. Kansas quickly erased the deficit with Wait once again behind the service line as the Jayhawks took a 3-2 edge.

The back-and-forth battle continued throughout the match-clincher, which featured 16 ties and six lead changes.

Winters’ 21st kill of the match gave Creighton an 8-7 advantage as the teams switched sides.

The Bluejays’ took a 14-12 lead, the first two-point cushion since 2-0, following a kill from Wilkinson and a Kansas attack error. Kansas saved match-point and tied it at 14 with the benefit of a ball-handling error. It was one of six match points the Jayhawks saved before Ballenger ended the match with a kill just over the top of the net to give Creighton a 20-18 victory.

Winters led Creighton with 23 kills, while Wilkinson (15) and Kloth (12) also reached double-figures. Brittany Witt had 21 digs and Lydia Dimke had a double-double with 56 assists and 17 digs. CU had 66 kills, seven aces, four blocks and 79 digs while hitting .250.

Kelsie Payne had 26 kills on .375 hitting to lead Kansas, with Madison Rigdon and Jada Burse each adding 12 kills. Ainise Havili had 53 assists and 18 digs and Wait tallied 27 digs. CU had 64 kills, seven aces, 74 digs and 13 blocks on .244 hitting overall. The Jayhawks had been 22-0 this year when winning the first set, and 8-0 in the fifth set this fall.

OH MY GOD!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/DWXUlRjuJB

— Creighton Volleyball (@CreightonVB) December 3, 2016

 

Friday’s are for the Jays! pic.twitter.com/NadCAKecTy

— Creighton Volleyball (@CreightonVB) December 3, 2016