MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Leah McNary had 14 kills while Kelli Browning had 12 more as the No. 21 Creighton Volleyball team won its NCAA Tournament opener, 3-0, over Marquette on Friday evening in Minneapolis, Minn.
Scores of Creighton's 17th straight victory were 25-22, 25-23, 28-26.
The win was Creighton's (29-3) second NCAA Tournament victory in three years, as the Jays also won in five sets in its NCAA Tournament debut in 2010 over Iowa State on the same Sports Pavilion floor.
Marquette ends its season with a 27-7 mark.
Creighton hit .412 in the opening set to down Marquette, 25-22. Browning had five kills in as many swings to pace the Jays, while McNary had three kills including the winner on set point. The match was tied five times early on before Kate Elman served up a pair of aces during a 5-0 run that helped CU to an 11-7 lead. MU got no closer than two the rest of the frame. MU hit .366, getting five kills by Erin Lehman, as setter Elizabeth Koberstein dished 16 assists.
Creighton won an even tighter second set that featured 14 ties and seven lead changes. The Jays trailed 21-20 late, only to go on a 5-2 run to close out the set. A kill from Browning evened the score and CU went ahead on a Golden Eagles attack error. MU would answer with a Danielle Carlson kill to tie the score at 22-all. McNary then followed with back-to-back kills, giving CU a 24-22 lead. Marquette earned a sideout on another Carlson kill, but the Jays then went back to McNary for the clincher, closing out the 25-23 set victory.
Creighton trailed much of the third set, but used a 3-0 run to go ahead 19-18. Marquette scored the next two points to go up 20-19, and the teams would then exchange 14 straight drama-filled sideouts (as Creighton survived three MU set points) until the score was knotted at 26 all. The Jays evened the score at 26-all on a Golden Eagles service error. Michelle Sicner then slammed her seventh kill to give CU a match point opportunity, which McNary finished with a kill on the next chance.
McNary led CU with 14 kills on .294 hitting, while Browning had 12 kills and hit .600 while also sharing team-high honors with Heather Thorson with four blocks. Jereb finished with a team-best 15 digs, while Elman tallied 14 digs. Sicner hit .500 in 14 swings without an error. The Jays hit .267 and finished with 48 kills, five aces, 54 digs and 12 blocks.
Marquette was paced by 13 kills each from Holly Mertens and Danielle Carlson, while Lehman had 10 kills. Julie Jeziorowski had 19 digs to lead all players on the afternoon. MU hit .231 and finished with 49 kills, two aces, 62 digs and three blocks.
Creighton advances to play eight-seeded and 11th-ranked Minnesota, which swept Liberty (25-21, 25-10, 34-32). Saturday's contest will start at 6 pm. A free video webcast will be available, and the contest can also be heard on KOIL (1290 AM).
NOTES: Kate Elman became the third player in Creighton history with at least 600 digs in a season and stretched her career-opening streak of 10 or more digs to 32 straight contests ... Creighton improved to 24-0 on the year when winning the first set and 18-0 when leading a match 2-0 this fall ... Creighton improved to 8-2 this year against teams in the NCAA Tournament field ... Creighton has now won 11 straight matches away from home and are 7-0 on neutral floors this fall ... Creighton finishes the month of November with a 9-0 record after also going undefeated in August (4-0) and October (7-0) ... Creighton is one of eight teams to win at least one match in every NCAA Tournament apperance in program history. The only other teams still alive in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that can say that are Stanford, Texas and Florida ...Creighton improved to 3-1 all-time vs. Marquette ...Megan Bober set a school-record by playing in her 127th career match ...Creighton improved to 11-1 against teams from the 2011 NCAA Tournament field ... The MVC went 3-0 in the first round, as Northern Iowa swept Kansas State and Wichita State overcame an 0-2 deficit to beat Arkansas ... Kelli Browning now owns 184 block assists on the season, four shy of the MVC single-season record ... The 55 combined wins between Marquette and Creighton entering the match were more than any other NCAA Tournament first-round pairing ... Megan Bober increased her school-record with her 23rd double-double of the season.