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Michelle Sicner and Kelli Browning team up for a block.
Courtesy: Laura Jacobsen

#23 Volleyball Prevails Over Lipscomb in Battle of League Favorites

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The No. 23 Creighton Volleyball team opened up the 2014 season with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Atlantic Sun Conference favorite Lipscomb on Friday morning at the Kansas Invitational in Lawrence, Kan.

Scores of the match in favor of CU were 29-31, 25-17, 26-24, 26-24.

Creighton improves to 6-0 while winning its program-record sixth straight season-opener. Lipscomb dropped to 0-1 with the setback, losing for the first time in three meetings against the Bluejays.

Following the match, Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth was pleased with her team's resolve late in the third and fourth sets.

"We were up 24-22 in game one and dropped it, and in game three were were up 24-22 and let them come back in. We need to close out when we have opportunities. I am pleased that once they got back to 24-24, that we were able to push back and win. Two senior-laden teams, both teams have a lot of experience on the court and I think you could see that both teams were performing at a high-level at the end of the game."

The teams started the season with a barn-burner featuring 12 ties and five lead changes before the Lady Bisons won a 31-29 nailbiter.  Creighton had leads of 20-16 and 24-21 it could not protect. In fact, the Bluejays would have set point opportunities at 24-21, 24-22, 24-23, 25-24, 27-26, 28-27 and 29-28 before three straight kills by Lipscomb won the set, including the clincher on a kill by Lauren Ford.

Kelli Browning, Lauren Smith and Leah McNary each had four kills in the first set for CU, while Kate Elman had eight digs. Creighton hit .300 in the frame while Lipscomb hit .354 on 23 kills, including seven by Brittnay Estes.

Creighton never trailed in the second set, racing to a 10-4 lead that was quickly extended to 17-8. CU hit .455 in the second set, including four kills from McNary and Smith, and limited LU to .226 hitting.

Creighton overcame a 15-11 deficit in the third frame to post a 26-24 victory and take a 2-1 lead in the match. Katie Neisler sparked a 7-0 run by the Bluejays to reclaim the edge, only to have the Lady Bisons answer to take a 20-19 advantage. A 5-1 run gave Creighton a 24-21 lead after Smith and Neisler combined for a block. Just like the first set, Lipscomb rallied back to knot the score at 24-all. This time, Creighton would take care of business, as McNary's fifth termination of the frame gave the Jays the victory.

Creighton led most of the fourth set, only to see Lipscomb tie the score at 19-19 and 20-20. Creighton squandered two match point chances at 24-22 and 24-23 before converting its third try at 25-24 via Browning's 14th kill of the match.

McNary led the Bluejays with 16 kills on .419 hitting in 31 swings, while Browning and Melanie Jereb each had 14 kills and one error each. Smith added 10 kills and eight blocks, while Elman recorded a match-best 27 digs. Creighton had 67 kills, four aces, 75 digs and 15 blocks while hitting .296 as a unit.

Lipscomb was paced by Estes, who turned in a triple-double with 12 kills, 12 digs and 10 assists. Ford paced all players with 18 kills while adding 11 digs, while Kayla Ostrom had 44 assists and 12 digs in her debut as the team's starting setter. Lipscomb had 64 kills, four aces, 77 digs and 10 blocks while hitting .233 overall.

Creighton returns to action at 5:30 pm tonight with a contest against Utah Valley (0-1). The Wolverines were swept by No. 22 Kansas, 25-11, 25-16, 25-18 in the second match of the day.

NOTES: Maggie Baumert's start marked the sixth straight year a Bluejay newcomer has started the season-opener. Baumert is a transfer who spent the previous three seasons at the University of Georgia ...Katie Neisler's five kills tied a career-best, first done in the 2011 season opener vs. UTSA ...This was the third straight season that Creighton won its season opener despite dropping the opening set, having also won in four sets in 2012 vs. UCF and last year vs. No. 13 BYU ... Creighton has now won 50 straight matches in which it has taken a 2-1 lead ... Jereb's 14 kills were the most she's had since Nov. 23, 2012 ... Creighton improved to 18-5 all-time when playing as a ranked team, including a 17-2 mark versus unranked teams ... With 27 digs, Elman moved from ninth to seventh place in CU history with 1,149 career digs.

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