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Lauren Smith
Courtesy: Steven Branscombe

No. 7 Hawai'i Tops No. 23 Creighton in Five-Set Volleyball Thriller

WICHITA, Kan. -- No. 23 Creighton Volleyball pushed No. 7 Hawai'i to the limit, but it wasn't enough as the Rainbow Wahine escaped with a 3-2 win at the Shocker Volleyball Classic on Friday in Wichita, Kan.

Scores of the match in favor of UH were 25-17, 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 15-9.

The victory was the eighth in a row for Hawai'i (10-1), while Creighton fell to 7-3 with the setback.

Hawai'i capitalized on an unusually erratic first set by Creighton. Creighton had six attack errors and a pair of service miscues while falling behind 11-5 and prompting a Bluejay timeout. Creighton got two kills from Leah McNary and a Lauren Smith/Jess Bird block during a 4-0 run to get within 12-10, only to see UH come out of a timeout with their own 7-0 run on Emily Hartong's serve to take their largest lead at 19-10.  The Wahine closed out the set with a 25-17 victory on Hartong's third kill of the frame. CU hit -.026 in 38 swings, but was paced by four kills from McNary. Kate Elman had six digs for CU.

The second set was close most of the set, and was tied at 14-all before an unforced net violation turned the momentum. With UH clinging to a 17-16 lead, Hartong served up a set-ending 8-0 run that ended the set with a 25-16 UH victory. Michelle Sicner and Bird led CU with three kills in the frame, with Bird adding six digs. UH was paced by five kills from Tai Manu-Olevao and hit .308 in the set.

Creighton came out of the locker room with a purpose and never trailed in a resounding 25-19 victory. Three consecutive kills by Smith propelled the Jays to a 6-1 lead, and the lead reached 15-9 on a McNary putaway. CU's lead reached as large as 23-15 before closing out the six-point set win. McNary had five kills and Kelli Browning four blocks in the third frame, which saw CU hit .345. The 19 points by Hawai'i matched its fewest in any 25-point set all season.

The fourth set was tightly contested with eight ties, but Creighton consistently got sideouts when needed. UH took its only lead of the set at 15-14, only to see CU answer with a 6-1 run fueled by two kills and a block by Browning. After UH closed within 20-18 late, the Jays called timeout and regouped with kills from McNary, Smith and Bird before consecutive aces by Lizzy Stivers sealed the 25-20 set victory and forced the fifth set. Browning had four kills in the frame for CU, which hit .370.

Creighton's only lead of the final set came after a McNary kill to open the set. The Rainbow Wahine answered with the next three points, and would hold off the pesky Jays after they would tie the score at 3-all and later 5-all. UH led 8-6 as the teams switched sides, and a short time later a 4-0 Wahine run made it 12-7 and would prove insurmountable. Hartong had kills on the final two points for UH, and would finish with seven of her match-high 20 kills in the final frame of her team's 15-9 victory.

Hartong had 20 kills, 16 digs and two aces on .311 hitting to pace the Rainbow Wahine. Joining her in double-figures was Manu-Olevao (14 kills, 14 digs) and Kalei Adolpho (13 kills, .480%). Hawai'i had 63 kills, two aces, 81 digs and six blocks on .225 hitting overall.

Creighton was paced by 12 kills from McNary, while Bird (10 kills, 12 digs) and Smith (10 kills) added offensive support. Kate Elman produced 19 digs to lead CU's defense, while Stivers tied a career-high with three aces.  Creighton had 51 kills, six aces, 58 digs and 16 blocks on .155 hitting overall.

Creighton continues play in the Shocker Volleyball Classic on Saturday with a 5 pm contest against South Dakota (9-5).

NOTES: The match featured two of the three top teams in winning percentage since the start of 2012, as Hawai'i (36-4, .900 entering Friday) was second and Creighton (36-6, .857) third nationally, trailing only Penn State (39-4, .907) ...Hawai'i leads the all-time series with Creighton, 2-0 ...Jess Bird's double-double was the freshman's second ...Creighton suffered consecutive losses for the first time since November of 2011, having also lost to No. 10 UCLA last Saturday ... Creighton dropped to 1-1 on the season in five-set matches, and is now 34-18 in marathon contests under Kirsten Bernthal Booth ...Today was the first time in 18 meetings vs. top-10 teams that Creighton won multiple sets ...Creighton's last victory after trailing 0-2 had come on Nov. 16, 2012, on the same Charles Koch Arena court, a victory that clinched CU's first outright MVC title ...Before Creighton, the only team to win two sets vs. Hawai'i this year had been No. 2 San Diego. Current No. 6 Texas & No. 11 UCLA won one, combined.
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