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Kelli Browning
Courtesy: Jason Roberts

Browning Leads Volleyball To USF Invitational Title

TAMPA, Fla. -- Wisconsin native Kelli Browning had a career-high 16 kills and Creighton overcame a first-set loss to topple Wisconsin in four sets for the USF Invitational title. Scores of the match were 17-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-22.

Creighton closes its opening weekend of play 3-0 with its first tournament title since 2006. Wisconsin is 2-1.

Wisconsin never trailed in the first set, quickly taking a 5-1 lead, and the Jays never got closer than three again. The Jays fell behind 19-13 and called timeout to squash the Badger momentum, but it wouldn't be enough in an eventual 25-17 loss. The Badgers have five women with three or more kills, and would hit .500 with 20 kills in the frame. CU was led by five kills by Heather Thorson in the opening set, but managed just 10 digs and did not record a block against the quick-strike Badger attack.

Creighton never trailed in the second set, scoring four of the first five points. After a UW sideout made it 4-2 Jays, Creighton ran off an 11-1 run to make it 15-3. UW got no closer than seven the rest of the way. Melanie Jereb served the final four points of the set, closing it out with three straight aces in CU's 25-14 win. Browning had four kills in the set, while Kate Elman had 11 digs in the set.  The Jays limited UW's offense to nine kills and .100 hitting.

The third set was one of runs. Creighton led 10-5 early, only to see the Badgers score the next seven to take a two-point lead. The Jays answered with the next four to claim their own two-point edge, and would never trail again. With the score knotted at 20, Megan Bober served a set-ending 5-0 run to hand the Jays a 25-20 third set win, and a 2-1 lead in the match.  Thorson and Michelle Sicner teamed on blocks on two of the final three points, as CU recorded five rejections in the set.

Creighton fell behind 4-0 early in the fourth set , but would take a 6-5 lead with a nice comeback. The teams were tied eight times in the set, but the Jays used a 6-0 run to move ahead 18-14 and never let up. Heather Thorson's kill on the Jays third match-point opportunity handed CU its first-ever win over the Badgers.

Browning's 16 kills led CU and were five more than her previous best. Thorson had 1 kills and six blocks, while Bober finished with 28 assists, 10 kills and eight digs. Kate Elman led CU with 22 digs, with fellow freshman Ashley Jansen not far behind with 17 digs. CU hit .265 overall and finished with 55 kills, five aces, 68 digs and 10 blocks.

Wisconsin was paced by 16 kills each from Ellen Chapman and Julie Mikaelsen, while Annmarie Hickey had 22 digs.

Creighton returns home next Friday when it hosts Syracuse at 6 pm in the Bluejay Invitational. Nationally-ranked Kansas State takes on Denver at 3:30 pm in the first match of the event.

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