OMAHA, Neb. -- Seniors Jessica Houts and Sarah Schulze starred and freshman Megan Bober played through severe sickness to lead the Creighton Volleyball team to a 3-1 win over Southern Illinois on Friday night in the opening event of a rare volleyball/women's basketball doubleheader. Scores of the match in favor of CU were 23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-18.
Creighton improved to 11-15 on the season and is 8-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Southern Illinois fell to 18-9 and is 7-9 in league action. Creighton has now won 15 straight against the Salukis since Kirsten Bernthal Booth was hired in 2003, and the teams have split the season series just once in the past 16 years.
"I was really pleaed with the way we played tonight," said Booth. "We dug the ball so much better than when we faced them last time, and for Houts and (Alicia) Runge to go the whole match without an error is amazing."
Creighton and SIU split the first two sets.
Southern Illinois used a late run to steal the first set. Creighton led nearly the entire way, including a lead as large as 15-9, before the 'Dawgs came back. Creighton led 23-21 late before Bluejay serving and attack errors evened the score, and a Sydney Clark kill and Chandra Roberson ace gave SIU the first set by a 25-23 margin. Creighton lost despite hitting .400 with 17 kills in 40 swings.
Creighton tied the match in the second stanza with a 25-17 victory. Creighton led nearly the entire way while showing no signs of let-up against SIU. Creighton hit .278 in the second set, with Houts owning 11 errorless kills at the break in 21 swings.
The Jays took a 2-1 lead in the match, never trailing while posting a 25-18 victory in the third set. Creighton led 6-3 despite the temporary absence of Bober, and would use a 7-0 spurt to go ahead 15-6. SIU would use an 8-4 run to get within 24-18 before Schulze and Laurel Sanford teamed up for a block to end the third set.
The Jays closed out the match with a 25-18 victory in the fourth and final set. Creighton surged to a 12-7 lead and the Salukis would never get any closer than three the rest of the night. The fourth set also saw Schulze surpass 1,000 career digs, become the first outside hitter in program history to do so.
Houts led four players in double-figures with 15 kills while hitting .536. She also added eight digs and five blocks. Runge was also flawless on her attempts, finishing with 13 kills and hitting .500 in 26 swings. Outside hitters Allie Oelke (11 kills, 11 digs, six blocks) and Schulze (10 kills, 17 digs, three blocks) also produced double-doubles for the contest, while libero Nayka Benitez cleaned up a team-high 26 digs. Sanford had a hand in eight blocks, as CU outblocked the Salukis 13.5-3.0 for the match. Creighton finished with 59 kills, one ace and 80 digs while hitting .327.
Leading Southern Illinois with 11 kills was Roberson. All-Valley performer Jennifer Berwanger led SIU with 14 kills and four aces, while Roberson also supplied 11 kills. Lauren Blumhorst dug a match-best 33 digs in the contest. SIU had 50 kills, six aces, 73 digs and three blocks while hitting .149.
Creighton will play its final home match of the regular-season tomorrow afternoon in a 3 pm start. Houts and Schulze will be honored prior to the match as part of Senior Day festivities, as Saturday will mark the duo's final regular-season home match.
NOTES: Creighton had been 0-13 when losing the first set this season ...Following the volleyball match, the nets were taken down and the baskets were put into place since the Creighton women's basketball had its season-opener against Arkansas State ...After starting the first 96 sets of the season, Megan Bober missed the beginning of the third set while receiving an IV in the locker room. With Bober out, the Jays ran a 6-2 for the first time in Kirsten Bernthal Booth's seven years with Brittany Moon and Brooke Boggs taking turns as setter. Bober returned a short time later with CU leading 6-3 ...Schulze's double-double was her second of the fall and sixth of her career ...Oelke's double-double was her ninth of the season and 26th of her career, tying her with Michelle Prorock for eighth in CU history.