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Kelli Browning
Courtesy: Mike Spomer

First BIG EAST Title on the Line as Volleyball Hosts Marquette Tonight

Creighton Volleyball Notes
BIG EAST Tournament Final
 Nov. 30    5 pm    #24 Marquette at Creighton (1180 AM)    Omaha, Neb. (D.J. Sokol Arena)

Today’s Match
Creighton’s first chance to win a BIG EAST title in any sport takes place on Saturday afternoon at D.J. Sokol Arena.
    Top-seeded and No. 24 Marquette (24-5, 15-1 BIG EAST) will visit second-seeded Creighton (22-7, 12-4 BIG EAST) in a tournament final set for 5 pm, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
    The match will be held at D.J. Sokol Arena inside the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center (2,500) in Omaha, Neb.

Radio Information
Saturday’s final will air on KZOT (1180 AM). Brad Burwell will call the play-by-play, while Erin (Swanson) Russell handles color analyst duties.
    The match is available by clicking on the  “Listen Live” banner on the right side of the page at http://1180zone2.com/.

Video Information
The BIG EAST Tournament final will be video webcast at GoCreighton.com, and include audio from Brad Burwell and Erin (Swanson) Russell. There is no charge for the video webcast.

Live Stats Information
The BIG EAST Tournament final on Saturday will have free live stats. Visit www.gocreighton.com and click on the Live Stats tab on the top of the page for the exact link.  Fans can also access live stats on their mobile phone by clicking on www.gocreightonstats.com.

Selection Show Party Planned
The 64-team bracket for the NCAA Tournament takes place this Sunday (Dec. 1), in a show scheduled to air on ESPNU at 8:30 pm Central.
    The Creighton team and coaches will watch the pairings be announced from The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill (501 North 13th Street in Omaha) on Sunday night.
    The public and media is invited to attend.

Scouting Creighton
Creighton finished the regular-season with a 21-7 mark and wrapped up its first BIG EAST campaign with a 12-4 league mark to tie for second.  CU then defeated Xavier in four sets last night to advance to today’s final.
    The Bluejays started the fall 9-3 against one of the nation’s most challenging non-conference schedules, and own five wins against teams that have been ranked this season (BYU, Marquette, Kansas, Cal State Northridge and Wichita State). Creighton’s success and schedule combined have the Bluejays ranked 16th in this week’s official NCAA RPI rankings and in the national conversation to host NCAA Tournament matches next weekend.
    Setter Michelle Sicner (9.98 aps., 1.50 kps., 0.96 bps.) was named AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 15th and has five hitters to choose from that average at least 1.70 kills per set.
    Leading the offense in kills is junior Leah McNary (3.05 kps.), just ahead of surging freshman Jess Bird (2.46 kps., 2.82 dps.). Kelli Browning (2.42 kps., 1.50 bps., .320%) and Lauren  Smith (2.23 kps., 1.17 bps.) give Creighton one of the nation’s best tandems in the middle.
    The defense is paced by sophomore libero Kate Elman (4.11 kps.), who also ranks second on the team with 21 aces.
    Creighton averages 13.56 kills, 1.05 aces, 15.65 digs and 3.03 blocks per set while hitting .221 as a team.

Scouting No. 24 Marquette
Marquette has won 19 of its last 20 matches to improve to 24-5 on the fall, but the lone setback in that stretch was a 3-0 loss at Creighton on Oct. 13. That setback in Omaha remains Marquette’s only loss in 11 true road matches this fall for the regular-season BIG EAST champs, which moved into the AVCA poll for the first time this week at No. 24.
    MU’s four non-conference losses came to teams ranked in the top-13 nationally at the time of the match (No. 13 BYU, No. 3 USC, No. 3 Penn State and No. 4 Florida).
    Freshman Autumn Bailey (4.22 kps., 3.01 dps., .272%) is one of the nation’s top freshmen and has consistently led the Golden Eagles in kills.
    Joining her on the offensive attack are Lindsey Gosh (2.74 kps., 0.51 saps.), Nele Barber (2.77 kps., .287%) and Meghan Niemann (2.67 kps., .341%).
    Directing MU’s offense is BIG EAST Player of the Year Elizabeth Koberstein (12.22 aps., 2.06 dps.), while Julie Jeziorowski (4.76 dps.) serves as a veteran presence at libero.
    As a team, Marquette averages 14.90 kills, 1.28 aces, 15.53 digs and 2.01 blocks per set on .287 hitting.

The Coaches
Creighton is coached by Kirsten Bernthal Booth (Truman State, 1997), who owns a 209-126 record in her 11th season with the Bluejays. She became the program’s all-time winningest coach on Aug. 25, 2007 with a 3-0 win over Stephen F. Austin, joined the 100-win club with an Oct. 31, 2008 win at Drake and the 200-win club with a Oct. 18 win vs. Xavier.
    She was named the 2010 CVU.com National Coach of the Year after leading Creighton to the second round during its first NCAA Tournament appearance, and named the CaptainU College Coach of the Year in 2012 following another run to the second round of the NCAA’s.
    Last season, Booth helped Creighton move into the top-25 for the first time in program history while also leading the team to a program-record 29 wins and first-ever MVC regular-season and tournament titles. For her efforts, she was named 2012 MVC Coach of the Year.
    Booth came to Creighton after going 112-41 in three years at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Booth played volleyball at Truman State, where she was named conference MVP, an Academic All-American and Missouri’s 1997 NCAA Woman of the Year. She ranked third in Division II history with 6,077 assists when she graduated.
    Booth is helped by assistant coaches Tom Mendoza and Angie Oxley Behrens and volunteer assistant Amanda (Gates) Sjuts.
    Marquette is coached by Bond Shymansky (Iowa, 1995), who is 116-44 in his fifth year with the Golden Eagles. Shymansky was previously head coach at Georgia Tech too, which gives him a career mark of  288-108 in 12 years overall. He is assisted by Jason Allen, Jackie Simpson and Evan Muys.

Series History vs. Marquette
Creighton is 4-2 all-time against Marquette, including a season split this season. Creighton swept the Golden Eagles on Oct. 13 (25-21, 25-21, 25-19), only to be swept at Marquette 12 days later (25-22, 25-18, 25-13).
    Each of the last five meetings have been sweeps, and teams to win the first set are 6-0 all-time in the history of the series.
    Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 4-2 against Marquette and Bond Shymansky, including a 2012 NCAA Tournament victory in Minneapolis.

Last Weekend Summary
Creighton swept both Georgetown and Villanova last weekend to lock up the second seed in the BIG EAST Tournament. Lauren Smith led Creighton with 22 kills on .500 last week, while Kelli Browning owned a team-best 12 blocks. Kate Elman collected a team-best 29 digs in the wins.

Recapping 2013 Meetings vs. Marquette
Creighton and Marquette split a pair of meetings in 2013, with the home team winning by a 3-0 margin each time.
    Leah McNary led Creighton with 20 kills in the two matches, while Michelle Sicner averaged 9.67 assists, 4.00 digs and 2.67  kills per set in the matches.
    MU was paced by 3.67 kills per set from Nele Barber, who hit .319 in the contests. Elizabeth Koberstein also lived up to her billing, averaging 11.83 assists, 1.67  digs and 1.50 kills per set.

With A Win on Saturday...
-Creighton would win the title match of the Conference Tournament for a second straight year. Creighton also won it in 2012 as a member of the MVC.
-Creighton would clinch its third NCAA Tournament bid in program history (also 2010, 2012).
-Creighton would improve to 23-7 on the fall with its fourth straight win, and eighth in the past nine contests.
-Creighton’s 23 wins would be second-most in school history, trailing only the 29 victories by last year’s club.
-Creighton would improve to 10-13 all-time in conference tournament play, including a 2-1 mark in the final round and a 2-0 mark in the BIG EAST Tournament.
-Creighton would improve to 12-2 at home this season, tying the record for home wins in a season.
-Creighton would claim its fourth win all-time over a ranked team, and second this season (also No. 13 BYU).
-Creighton would improve to 2-7 all-time vs. ranked teams at D.J. Sokol Arena.


You Dig?
In Creighton’s first 28 matches of the seaosn, only Kate Elman (five times) had reached 20 digs in a match.
    On Friday, Creighton had different three players with at least 20 digs, as Elman (24), Jess Bird (22) and Michelle Sicner (21) reached that milestone.
    Bird’s 22 digs were four more than her previous best, while Sicner’s 21 were a career high, as well.
    Sicner, who added 44 assists, became the first Bluejay player with at least 20 digs and 20 assists in the same match since Sicner herself did it on Sept. 30, 2011. Prior to that, the last player to do it had been Korie Lebeda in 2006.
    Sicner is just the fourth player in Creighton history with multiple matches of 20+ digs and 20+ assists in a match, joining Melissa Weisensee, Kailey Reyes and Brittany Coleman.
    Creighton’s 96 digs on Friday vs. Xavier were a season-high, and were tied for the most in history for any match at D.J. Sokol Arena.

Give Me Five
Creighton featured a balanced attack vs. Xavier last night, as five women had 10 or more kills, and five women had 10 or more digs, as well.
    Prior to last night, Creighton had not had any matches that saw five players with either 10 digs or 10 kills all season long.
    It was the first time that Creighton had five women with 10+ kills since doing so on Nov. 16, 2012 at Wichita State.
    It was also the first time that Creighton had five women with 10+ digs since doing so on Nov. 10, 2012.
    Creighton had not had five players with 10 or more kills AND 10 or more digs in the same match since a Oct. 15, 2005 win at Southern Illinois.

Looking For History
The BIG EAST Tournament will be the 13th tournament that Creighton has hosted since its 1994 reinstatement. Stunningly, Creighton is still seeking its first tournament title on its home floor.
    Creighton was unable to win the First Serve Festival in 1996 and 1997, the 2009 MVC Tournament, nor any of the nine Bluejay Invitationals (2005-13) to date.


Recent History Of Top Seeds In The Tourney
Being the top seed hasn’t always been a guarantee of winning the BIG EAST Tournament.
    Since 2005, the BIG EAST Tournament has been won by the top seed just once, with that coming last season when Louisville swept the regular-season and tournament titles.
    The No. 2 seed won the BIG EAST Tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. The No. 3 seed won in 2008, and the No. 4 seed won in 2009.
    Here’s a look at how the top seed performed at the previous eight league tournaments:
Year    Top Seed    Tourney Finish
2013    Marquette    ? ? ?
2012    Louisville    1st (3-0)
2011    Louisville    Semi’s (1-1)
2010    Cincinnati    Finals (2-1)
2009    Notre Dame    Semi’s (1-1)
2008    St. John’s    Semi’s (1-1)
2007    Louisville    Finals (2-1)
2006    St. John’s    Semi’s (1-1)
2005    Notre Dame    Finals (2-1)

RPI Warriors
Creighton ranked 16th nationally in the official RPI released by the NCAA on Monday. The only schools ahead of the Bluejays are Texas, Penn State, Washington, Florida, Missouri, USC, Stanford, Nebraska, Kentucky, Marquette, Hawai’i, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and San Diego. Other notable teams behind Creighton include Illinois, Colorado State and Iowa State.

Does A Top-16 RPI Lead To Hosting?
Armed with a No. 16 RPI this week, you would think Creighton has to be considered among the 16 teams that will be selected to host NCAA Tournament matches this fall. Consider the following..
    -Each of the last three teams with a Selection Sunday RPI of 16 earned a national seed, and two of those teams were selected to host.
    -All but four of the 32 teams with a top-16 RPI on Selection Sunday have hosted in the past two years.
    -In the last five NCAA Tournaments, 64 of the 80 teams with a Selection Sunday RPI in the top 16 have been selected to host.

Conference Tournament History
Creighton owned an 8-13 all-time record at the MVC Tournament, which includes a 7-9 mark under Kirsten Bernthal Booth. CU won one title in that time, with that coming last fall in Springfield, Mo.
    Creighton is 1-1 in conference tournament home matches, defeating Drake 3-1 before falling to No. 20 Northern Iowa in the 2009 tournament held at D.J. Sokol Arena.
    Creighton was 0-1 all-time as a No. 2 seed in the MVC Tournament, losing to Northern Iowa in 2008 in Wichita, Kan.

Home Success
Creighton  is 22-3 at home the past two seasons, with two of those setbacks coming during the Bluejay Invitational. Creighton is also now 40-5 in its last 45 home matches against unranked competition.
    All-time, Creighton is 51-17 (.750) at D.J. Sokol Arena.
    Against conference foes, Creighton is 18-1 the past two years at D.J. Sokol Arena, and 40-6 all-time against conference foes (including the 2009 MVC Tournament and 2013 BIG EAST Tournament).

Set 1 Result = Match Result
Creighton is 176-20 overall under Kirsten Bernthal Booth when it wins set one. In that same time span, CU is just 33-106 under Booth when it drops the first set.
    Creighton has also won 34 home straight contests when winning the first set.
    Creighton went 24-1 last season when winning the opening set of a match. The season-ending loss to Minnesota was the first time all season that it lost after leading a match after any completed set.
    This year’s team is 22-2 when leading in sets played at any point of a match.

Dig This!
Kate Elman owns double-digit digs in each of her last 20 matches, a streak that started on Sept. 20th.
    With 24 digs vs. Xavier on Friday, Elman became the first player in Creighton history with multiple double-digit dig streaks of 20 or longer in her career.
    The school record streak is 43, set by Janeen Piller nearly a decade ago.
Consecutive Matches, 10 or More Digs
    43    Janeen Piller, Oct. 10, 2003-Nov. 26, 2004
    32    Kate Elman, Aug. 24 - Nov. 30, 2012
    27    Bianca Rivera, Aug. 24-Nov. 9, 2007
    23    Julianne Mandolfo, Sept. 9-Nov. 24, 2011
    20    Kate Elman, Sept. 20, 2013 - Present
    19    Bianca Rivera, Sept. 20-Nov. 28, 2008

A Bunch Of Winners
Creighton has experienced a great deal of success in recent seasons, and the current squad has enjoyed victories at historic levels.
    Creighton’s 51 victories in the past two seasons are five more than other two-year span in program history, previoiusly done from 2011-12.
    Creighton’s 68 victories in the past three seasons are the most in any three-year span in program history, one more than the 2010-12 total of 67.
    Creighton’s 89 victories in the past four seasons are eight more than other four-year span in program history, which was done from 2009-12.

Avoiding Season Sweeps
Creighton has lost just 15 times since Oct. 16, 2011, and none of those teams have beaten CU twice in that span.
    In fact, when facing a team that has beaten the Jays since then, Creighton is a perfect 13-0 when facing such a team.
    The last time CU lost twice to the same team in the same season came in 2011, when Texas A&M, Missouri State and UNI all did it.
    Marquette beat the Jays earlier this fall in Milwaukee.

Brew City Browning
Junior MB Kelli Browning hails from the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, and looks to continue her trend of big matches against Wisconsin teams against Marquette on Saturday.
    In four matches during the past two seasons against Marquette or Wisconsin, Browning has averaged 3.00 kills and 1.00 blocks per set while hitting a healthy .507 in 13 sets.
    Most importantly, Creighton has won three of the four matches (2-1 vs. MU, 1-0 vs. UW).

Inspired By Marquette?
Michelle Sicner has had a tremendous season, and has played her best volleyball when Marquette has been present.
    At the season-opening Hampton Inn Invitational that both Creighton and Marquette participated in, Sicner was named Tournament MVP and led her team to the title.
    On Oct. 13, Sicner had a triple-double in a 3-0 win vs. Marquette en route to BIG EAST Player of the Week and Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week accolades. In the most recent meeting on Oct. 25th in Milwaukee, Sicner had 25 assists, nine digs and four kills vs. the Golden Eagles.
    Last night, Sicner had yet another triple-double against Xavier, with Marquette courtside while scouting.

Sweep, Then Swept
On Oct. 25 Creighton was swept for the first time in league play in more than two years when Marquette defeated CU by a 3-0 score.
    It was the first 3-0 loss for the Jays in a conference match since a 3-0 loss to Oct. 15, 2011 vs. Northern Iowa.
    Additionally, it marked just the second time since CU reinstated volleyball in 1994 that the Bluejays swept and were swept by the same team. The only other time that happened came in 1997 against Indiana State, where CU lost in Terre Haute 3-0 on Oct. 25 but swept the Sycamores 3-0 on Nov. 20 at the MVC Tournament in Normal, Ill.

Defensive Keys
Key to Creighton’s 3-0 sweep of Marquette on Oct. 13 was holding freshman sensation Autumn Bailey to career-lows in kills (6) and hitting percentage (-.042). Bailey ranks second nationally among freshmen (26th overall) with 4.29 kills per set.
    Another key to the win vs. Marquette was in serve receive, where Creighton held the Golden Eagles without a service ace in 63 attempts.  Preseason All-BIG EAST performer Lindsey Gosh ranks seventh nationally with 0.53 aces per set while Bailey ranks 78th with 0.35 aces per set. The Golden Eagles won the point on just one of Gosh’s eight serving attempts and just two of Bailey’s nine attempts.
    By contrast, in the second meeting between the schools, Bailey had 13 kills on .303 hitting, as well as an ace. Gosh served 12 times, with MU winning six of those points. Marquette won that match in three sets.

Triple-Double Trouble
Michelle Sicner had near-identical numbers while posting a pair of triple-doubles in home wins over Marquette and DePaul earlier this season.
    Sicner had 39 assists, 12 digs and 12 kills on Oct. 11 in four sets vs. DePaul, then followed that up with 33 assists, 15 digs and 12 kills on Oct. 13 in a 3-0 sweep of Marquette. In both matches, Sicner had identical hitting lines of 12 kills and one error in 19 swings for a .579 hitting percentage.
    Sicner had her third triple-double of the fall on Nov. 1 when she had 44 assists, 10 kills and 10 blocks vs. St. John’s.
    Sicner is the second player in Creighton history to post consecutive triple-doubles, as Megan Bober did it three times. Her four triple-doubles in a season are third-most in school history, and her five career triple-doubles are also second-most in Bluejay annals.
Matches With a Triple-Double, Season
    T-D    Name    Year
    9    Megan Bober    2011
    6    Megan Bober    2012
    4    Michelle Sicner    2013
    1    Melissa Weisensee    1994
    1    JoDe Cieloha    1995
    1    JoDe Cieloha    1996
    1    Melissa Weisensee    1997
    1    Kailey Reyes    1998
    1    Kailey Reyes    1999
    1    Kailey Reyes    2000
    1    Kailey Reyes    2001
    1    Michelle Sicner    2011

Matches With a Triple-Double, Career
    T-D    Name    Years
    15    Megan Bober    2009-12
    5    Michelle Sicner    2011-Pres.
    4    Kailey Reyes    1998-2001
    2    Melissa Weisensee    1994-97
    2    JoDe Cieloha    1994-97

Jays vs. Ranked Teams
Creighton’s win over No. 13 BYU on Aug. 30 marked the team’s third win over a ranked foe in the last five seasons. The Jays defeated No. 25 Wichita State in 2009 and No. 16 Iowa State in 2010. The victory over BYU was the highest-ranked team that Creighton has ever beaten.
    Creighton is 3-50 all-time against ranked schools (3-34 under Kirsten Bernthal Booth), and 0-18 vs. top-10 clubs. That includes an 0-26 road record, 1-17 at home and 2-7 at neutral sites.
Creighton vs. Ranked Teams All-Time
Date    Opponent    Result
09/01/98    at #5 Nebraska    L 0-3
09/04/98    vs. #19 Texas A&M (@Pacific)    L 0-3
09/05/98    at #11 Pacific    L 0-3
09/14/99    at #24 Kansas State    L 0-3
10/16/99    #19 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
09/08/00    at #6 Hawai’i    L 0-3
10/03/00    at #1 Nebraska    L 0-3
09/08/01    at #24 Santa Clara    L 1-3
09/09/01    vs. #13 UC Santa Barbara (at Santa Clara)    L 0-3
09/25/01    at #1 Nebraska    L 0-3
10/13/01    #16 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
11/09/01    at #18 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
09/06/02    vs. #13 Pacific (at Columbia, S.C.)    L 0-3
09/21/02    at #7 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
09/29/02    at #5 Nebraska    L 0-3
10/18/02    #10 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
10/04/03    at #10 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
11/01/03    #12 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
10/10/04    vs. #5 Nebraska (North Platte, Neb.)    L 0-3
09/06/05    at #24 Kansas State    L 0-3
09/10/05    vs. #3 Stanford (Boulder, Colo.)    L 0-3
10/11/05    at #1 Nebraska    L 0-3
10/29/05    at #25 Wichita State    L 1-3
09/24/06    #1 Nebraska    L 1-3
08/31/07    at #1 Nebraska    L 0-3
09/02/07    #18 Cal Poly    L 0-3
09/15/07    at #13 Minnesota    L 1-3
11/10/07    at #24 Wichita State    L 0-3
08/29/08    #16 Minnesota    L 0-3
08/30/08    #21 LSU    L 2-3
09/27/08    #14 Wichita State    L 1-3
10/05/08    #2 Nebraska    L 0-3
10/24/08    at #12 Wichita State    L 0-3
08/29/09    #10 Illinois    L 0-3
09/01/09    at #6 Nebraska    L 0-3
10/02/09    #25 Wichita State    W 3-1
11/10/09    #20 Saint Louis    L 0-3
11/20/09    at #21 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
11/27/09    #20 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
09/01/10    #7 Nebraska    L 0-3
09/24/10    #16 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
10/23/10    at #14 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
11/27/10    at #11 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
12/03/10    vs. #16 Iowa State (Minneapolis)    W 3-2
12/04/10    at #12 Minnesota    L 0-3
09/08/11    at #11 Nebraska    L 0-3
10/15/11    #12 Northern Iowa    L 0-3
11/11/11    at #12 Northern Iowa    L 1-3
09/01/12    #21 Kansas State    L 0-3
12/01/12    at #11 Minnesota    L 1-3
08/30/13    vs. #13 BYU (Bowling Green, Ohio)    W 3-1
09/14/13    vs. #11 UCLA (Denver, Colo)    L 1-3
09/20/13    vs. #7 Hawai’i (Wichita, Kan.)    L 2-3

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