DENVER, Colo. -- Freshman Lauren Smith had 10 kills and five blocks on .909 hitting as No. 24 Creighton Volleyball swept previously unbeaten Cal State Northridge in the opening match of the Denver Invitational on Friday.
Scores of Creighton's ninth straight neutral-site win were 25-20, 25-17, 25-12. Both teams are now 6-1, as CSUN's best start to a season since 1997 was halted.
Smith's hitting percentage ranks as the best single-match performance in school history by any player with 10 or more attempts, and came just three days after she tied CU's single-match record for blocks in a match by a freshman with nine vs. Kansas.
"Michelle (Sicner) was distributing to Lauren (Smith) at the right time, and then Lauren was doing what she does well," said Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. "She's quick up, she works around things and has good vision. She's done a great job."
Creighton never trailed in the first set, with Smith leading the way. Smith had kills on her first four swings and added two blocks as CU quickly raced to leads of 13-5 and 15-8. The Matadors battled back to force a timeout after trimming CU's lead to 17-13. CU would regain its composure and pull away for a 25-20 first set win. Smith had five kills in six swings during the set, as CU hit .382 in the frame. Casey Hinger led CSUN with six kills on .625 hitting for the set.
Creighton got back-to-back aces from Melanie Jereb to build a 7-5 lead in the second set and never looked back. Creighton pulled away down the stretch with a 10-4 run to close out a 25-17 set win. Michelle Sicner paced CU with 14 assists in the second set as CU hit .387 and served three aces in the frame.
Creighton never trailed in the third set. With the score knotted at 5-all, the Bluejays unleashed a 12-2 run that clinched the sweep. The third set saw freshman Amanda Foje earn her first career ace, one of six service winners on the day for the Bluejays.
"Northridge was a really good team," said Booth. "I thought they blocked better than I anticipated. I thought we played a good game, not our best, but what we didn't do was make back-to-back errors. I think that's the mark of a good team is you don't let on a team go on a run against you."
Smith led Creighton with both 10 kills and five blocks. Jess Bird and Leah McNary each had eight kills, while Kate Elman topped the defense with eight digs. Creighton hit .395 in the match and had 41 kills, six aces, 28 digs and six blocks.
CSUN was led by eight kills each from Natalie Allen and Cieana Stinson, while Kelcie Randazzo had seven digs. The Matadors had 35 kills, one ace, 27 digs and six blocks on .193 hitting.
Creighton returns to action tonight at 8 pm Central with a contest against tournament host Denver (5-3).
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