OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton volleyball team advanced to the BIG EAST Volleyball Tournament Championship with a 3-1 win over Xavier on Friday, Nov. 29. Creighton will face off with #24 Marquette on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m.
With the win the Bluejays moved to 22-7, while Xavier likely ended its 2013 season at 21-11.
Creighton created separation early in the opening set with 10 of the first 14 points, but Xavier responded with five straight to get back within a point at 10-9. A service error by Xavier, followed by a kill from Kelli Browning and an attack error by the Musketeers pushed the Bluejay edge back to 13-9. The Jays went on to force Xavier into nine errors (eight attacking and one service) in the first set, en route to a 25-18 win.
The second set was decided by a 11-3 run, once again characterized by Musketeer errors. Down 6-5, the Jays scored on a quick attack from junior setter, Michelle Sicner. Moving to the service line, Sicner's tough serving forced Xavier into three straight errors to give the Bluejays a 9-6 lead. Xavier appeared to regain its footing as the squads traded kills twice, but sophomore Kate Elman had other ideas. Elman served five straight points on kills from freshman Jess Bird, Browning, a Xavier error and capped by an ace to make it 16-8. The Jays took set two, 25-19, holding Xavier to a .061 hitting percentage (11 K, 8 E, 49 A).
Down 6-2 early in the third set, the Bluejays appeared to seize control with six consecutive points on a kill by Sicner, one by Lauren Smith, two Xavier errors, then kills from Sicner and Leah McNary. Xavier, however, regained the lead with a 5-2 run of their own to make it 11-10, Musketeers. Tied at 17-17, Xavier used a 4-1 run to seize control and went on to claim a 25-22 win to force a fourth set.
Once more it was a Bluejay burst that tipped the scales midway through the fourth set. Leading 11-10, Creighton rattled off seven of eight points to build an 18-11 edge. This time the Creighton run was fueled by a two McNary kills and two Smith kills. Creighton dominated the fourth set, hammering down 20 kills on 42 swings, with just two errors (.429).
Sicner set the table for her teammates with a triple-double (44 A, 21 D & 11 kills). Four other Bluejays finished with double-figure kills, Browning (13), Smith (12), McNary (11) and Bird (10).
Abbey Bessler led the way for the Musketeers with 13 kills.
As a team the Bluejays posted 96 digs in the match, led by 24 from Elman.
Earlier in the day the Marquette Golden Eagles advanced to the Big East Conference Tournament Championship match with a 3-1 victory over Butler. Set scores for the match were 25-18, 14-25, 25-22, 25-16.
Marquette finished with 61 kills, three aces, 71 digs and 10 blocks on .293 hitting. Four Marquette players had double digit kills. Nele Barber had 18 kills on .500 hitting to pace the Golden Eagles, while Julie Jeziorowski had a match-best 29 digs. Meghan Niemann had 13 kills on .360 hitting. Autumn Bailey and Lindsey Gosh each added ten kills. Elizabeth Koberstein dished out 49 assists.
Creighton and Marquette split two matches during the 2013 season, as the Bluejays swept Marquette in Omaha on Oct. 13. Marquette returned the favor with a 3-0 win in Milwaukee on Oct. 25.