OMAHA, Neb. -- The Creighton Volleyball team closed out its first regular-season in the BIG EAST with a 3-0 win over Villanova on Sunday, Nov. 24, at D.J. Sokol Arena. Scores of the match were 25-23, 25-14, 25-21.
Creighton is now 21-7 (12-4 BIG EAST) and has earned the second seed in next week's BIG EAST Tournament, while Villanova closes its season (12-17, 4-12) tying for seventh in the league standings. The Wildcats did not qualify for the postseason.
Though it was Senior Day for Bluejay middle blocker Savannah Smith, it was a pair of freshmen who led the Creighton offense. Lauren Smith had 12 kills on .733 hitting, while Jess Bird had 10 kills and nine digs to go with four blocks. Michelle Sicner added a double-double with 33 assists and 10 digs, while Kate Elman produced a match-best 18 digs. Creighton hit .252 and had 39 kills, five aces, 59 digs and 12 blocks.
Villanova was paced by 11 kills from Gabby Pethokoukis, while Mariah Henley had 13 digs. Villanova setter Emma Pettit, the daughter of former Nebraska coach Terry Pettit, had 30 assists and nine digs. The Wildcats had 38 kills, four aces, 52 digs and five blocks on .128 hitting overall.
The first set was a nailbiter throughout with 15 ties and five lead changes as neither team ever led by more than three points. After Creighton broke free for a 20-18 lead, three straight attack errors returned a one-point advantage to Villanova. The teams alternated three additional consecutive attack errors before a service miscue from 'Nova gave the Jays a 23-22 lead. The Wildcats would tie the set at 23 before consecutive kills by Kelli Browning gave the hosts the opener. Lauren Smith had five kills in the first set while Sicner had a hand in three of CU's four blocks in the frame while adding 12 assists and four digs.
Creighton started quickly in the second set, building a 14-6 lead after Ashley Jansen served up six straight points. CU's block added four more stuffs to contribute to 10 attack errors from Villanova as Creighton sailed to a 25-14 win on a kill from Savannah Smith.
Elman served Creighton to a 5-1 lead to open the third set, and Jansen later added another 5-0 serving blitz that made it 17-10. A late comeback by 'Nova proved too little, too late, as Creighton closed out the victory with a kill by Lauren Smith on match point, her fifth kill of the set in six swings.
Creighton will host the BIG EAST Tournament next weekend at D.J. Sokol Arena. The tournament will open on Friday at 4 pm Central when top-seeded Marquette meets fourth-seeded Butler. Creighton, the second-seed, then hosts third-seeded Xavier at 6:30 pm Central. Saturday's championship match begins at 5 pm Central.
NOTES: Creighton's 21 wins are tied for second-most in school history, and was also done in 2006, 2007 and 2010 ... Creighton has swept three straight home matches ...Creighton won both meetings over Xavier this season, giving them the tiebreaker for the second seed. Marquette went 2-0 vs. Butler this season ...Creighton is now 50-11 since the start of last season ... Creighton has won 33 straight home matches when winning the first set
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