CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- No. 12 Northern Iowa was too much for the Creighton Volleyball team to stop, as the Panthers earned a 3-1 win over Creighton on Friday night at McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Scores of the match in favor of UNI were 25-23, 20-25, 25-20, 25-14.
Northern Iowa (27-1, 15-0 MVC) had to come from behind to win the always pivotal first set, 25-23. The Jays led 16-13 before UNI responded with an 8-1 run to claim 21-17 lead. The Jays fought take to knot the score at 23-all, only to fall when UNI got consecutive kills from Amy Braun and Shelby Kintzel to close out the frame.
Creighton (16-12, 11-5 MVC) broke free from a 9-9 tie early in the second set with a 5-0 run on Natalie Hackbarth's serve to take a 14-9 lead. The Jays stretched that lead to six points at 16-10, 20-14 and 21-15 before UNI got within three late. However, a kill by Heather Thorson got CU to 24, and a Brooke Boggs ace on set point sealed CU's 25-20 win.
"I thought particularly in sets one and two it was two evenly-matched teams," said CU head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. "We know we're going to have to play great ball the entire match to beat a team like UNI, and for good portion of the match played at that level."In games three and four we lost some of our confidence and it led to inconsistent play. Great teams wear you down. We did some very good things, now we just need to sustain it for a longer period of time."
Creghton fell behind early in both the third and fourth sets and were unable to manage a comeback. UNI won the third set 25-20 and the fourth set 25-14.
Thorson and Megan Bober tied for Creighton's team lead with 12 kills each. Bober was one dig shy of her MVC-record eighth triple-double of the fall. Julianne Mandolfo had 24 digs to lead all players, putting her just seven shy of CU's single-season digs record of 618. Creighton had 51 kills, two aces, 68 digs and 10.5 blocks while hitting .192.
Northern Iowa was paced by 16 kills by Kintzel, while Michelle Burow (14) and Krista DeGeest (11) also reached double-figures. Two-time MVC Player of the Year Bre Payton flirted with a triple-double herself, finishing with 47 assists, 16 digs and seven kills. The Panthers finished with 63 kills, five aces, 82 digs and 8.0 blocks while hitting .217.
Creighton heads to Peoria, Ill., to take on Bradley (10-15, 3-12 MVC) in a 7 pm match on Saturday night. The Braves swept Drake on Friday in Peoria. That contest can be heard on KOIL (1180 AM).