TAMPA, Fla. -- Leah McNary had 13 kills in her return home to lead the Creighton Volleyball team to a 3-1 win over UCF in the 2012 season opener in Tampa, Fla., on Friday night.
The win was Creighton's fourth straight victory in a season-opener.
UCF never trailed in the opening set, running away late to take a 25-16 victory. The Knights owned a narrow 13-12 lead before UCF went on a 5-1 run to move up 19-13. Heather Thorson and Megan Bober combined for back-to-back blocks of Kayla Keller to get the Jays within four, but UCF scored six of the final seven points in the frame. Creighton had a 21-17 lead in digs, but hit just .000 with six kills.
Creighton dominated the second set from the start. After UCF dented the scoreboard first, the Jays rallied with the next five points. Leah McNary had three kills and a block in the surge, and the lead was quickly extended to 14-5. McNary had four kills in the set, and the Jays had six blocks in the frame.
Creighton won a closely contested third set, to take control of the match. Neither team led by more than two until McNary's personal 3-0 run made it 21-18 and forced a Knights timeout. CU used the momentum to close out the set, 25-20. Cheered on by a large contingent of family and friends, McNary had eight kills in the third set alone.
The fourth set was also tightly-contested with 13 ties and six lead changes, but a match-ending 4-0 run capped by a Thorson/Sicner tandem block sealed it. Thorson had five kills and two blocks in the final set.
Eight different women recorded kills for Creighton, led by McNary (13) and Thorson (12), while Browning, Bober and Sicner each finished with six putaways. Bober had a double-double with 36 assists, 12 digs, six kills and five blocks, while Thorson had a match-best nine stuffs to tie her career high. The Jays began the match with three freshmen on the floor, and all three had double-digit digs, paced by Kate Elman (22), Melanie Jereb (14) and Ashley Jansen (10). Elman's 22 digs were most in school history for a player making her debut.
For the night, Creighton had a 77-65 advantage in digs, a 16-5 blocking edge and out-hit the Knights, .248 to .141. Both teams had 50 kills.
UCF was led by 13 kills from Ashley Gialenios, while Meredith Murphy had 22 digs in a losing effort.
Creighton returns to The Corral on Saturday for a pair of matches, taking on host USF at Noon (Central) before a 6 pm match vs. Wisconsin to close weekend play.
NOTES: Kate Elman became the first freshman in Creighton history to play libero in her debut ...Melanie Jereb and Ashley Jansen both earned starts in their debut, just the 10th and 11th true freshman to do so since 2000 ... Lizzy Stivers also made her debut after redshirting last season ... UCF went 20-11 last year and return five starters from a team that swept third-ranked USC. The Knights were picked third in the preseason Conference USA poll ... This was Creighton's first match played in Florida since the Jays 1994 reinstatement ... Leah McNary hails from Tarpon Springs, Fla., about a 30-minute drive from the USF campus ...Creighton was just 2-13 last year when dropping the first set.