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Jess Bird had eight kills and nine digs.
Courtesy: Steven Branscombe

Volleyball Takes Down League-Leading Marquette

OMAHA, Neb. -- Creighton Volleyball knocked Marquette out of first place in the BIG EAST with a victory over the Golden Eagles on Sunday afternoon in a match-up of the teams picked atop the preseason league poll.

Creighton won the first two sets by identical 25-21 scores, closing out both sets with a big run, before a 25-19 win in the clincher. A season-best crowd of 2,109 filled D.J. Sokol Arena, the facility's fifth-largest crowd since its opening.

Both teams entered the match with identical 11-4 records and top-15 RPI's. The win improved Creighton to 12-4 and 3-1 in the BIG EAST, while Marquette is now 11-5 and 3-1 in the BIG EAST. Both teams trail Xavier (Creighton's next opponent) by one-half game in the league standings.

Creighton setter Michelle Sicner had her second triple-double in a row, finishing with 33 assists, 15 digs and 12 kills on .579 hitting. The 12 kills tied a career-best first accomplished Friday when she had 39 assists, 12 digs and 12 kills on .579 hitting in a 3-1 win vs. DePaul.

The first set was even at 17-all before CU would score eight of the final 12 points.  A kill from Sicner opened the burst, and Lizzy Stivers followed with an ace after checking in for the first time to swing the momentum. A kill from Milwaukee-area native Kelli Browning closed out the 25-21 win. CU had four blocks in the first set while holding MU freshman sensation Autumn Bailey to just one kill and four errors in nine swings.

Creighton trailed 20-18 late in the second set before answering with a 7-1 run to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Kills by Leah McNary and Lauren Smith started the run and Ashley Jansen had an ace to give CU a lead it wouldn't surrender. A Jess Bird kill made it 24-21, and Savannah Smith and Kelli Browning shared a block of Bailey to close out the set. CU had 19 kills and 29 digs in the set on .333 hitting. McNary had six of the kills, while Sicner had 14 assists, six digs  and four kills. MU was led by five kills in nine swings by Meghan Niemann.

Creighton trailed early in the third set before Sicner had a pair of kills during Melanie Jereb's 4-0 serving run that gave CU a 13-9 lead.  MU would close to within 16-14 before a McNary kill and consecutive stuffs from Savannah Smith and Lauren Smith made it 19-14. Sicner's 12th kill of the match closed out the match.

Sicner and McNary both had 12 kills to lead CU, while Sicner also paced CU with 33 assists and 15 digs. Bird and Lauren Smith both added eight kills, while Savannah Smith saw extensive action and tallied five blocks and four digs. CU finished with 48 kills, three aces, 56 digs and 8.5 blocks on .283 hitting.

MU was led by 12 kills by Niemann, while Nele Barber had 10 kills. Bailey came in averaging 4.04 kills per set,  but the freshman was held to career-lows of six kills and -.024 hitting in 24 swings, though she did amass a career-high 18 digs. MU had 42 kills, no aces, 51 digs and seven blocks on .203 hitting.

Creighton remains at home for a pair of matches next week. The Bluejays host Xavier (11-7, 4-1 BIG EAST) on Friday at 7 pm, followed by the squad's annual "Pink Out" match vs. Butler (16-4, 3-2 BIG EAST) on Sunday at 1 pm.

NOTES: Creighton has won 29 straight home matches when winning set one ...Ashley Jansen recorded the second kill of the season with on an attack in the first set ...Creighton also swept Marquette in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis and now leads the all-time series, 4-1 ...The crowd of 2,109 was fifth-largest in D.J. Sokol Arena history ...Marquette had not lost a current member of the BIG EAST in league play since Sept. 26, 2010 ...It was Marquette's first defeat of the fall in BIG EAST play in any sport after 12 straight wins across its soccer and volleyball programs ...Creighton now owns six wins this fall over teams that made the 2012 NCAA Tournament ...Michelle Sicner now owns three career triple-doubles, third-most in CU history. She is the second player to post consecutive triple-doubles, joining Megan Bober who did it three times.

More to come...

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