OMAHA, Neb. -- MVC Player of the Year Bre Payton had 11 kills, 34 assists, 12 digs and five blocks while hitting .500, leading the top-seeded University of Northern Iowa Volleyball team to a 3-0 victory over host Creighton in the semifinals of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Tournament. Scores of the match were 25-20, 25-16, 25-18.
Northern Iowa (29-2), winners of 27 straight matches and a league-record 13 conference tournament titles, will take on third-seeded Wichita State (26-5) in Saturday's 3 pm final from D.J. Sokol Arena inside the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center in Omaha. The third-seeded Shockers advanced to Saturday's final with a 3-2 (25-15, 23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-12) win over second-seeded Missouri State in the first semifinal of the afternoon.
Creighton (14-17) has now been eliminated by UNI in the MVC Tournament each of the past five seasons, including the last four in semifinal round action.
Jessica Houts and Alicia Runge paced CU with 11 kills, as each hit over .420. Nayka Benitez led CU's defense with 16 kills. Creighton had 38 kills, one ace, 47 digs and four blocks while hitting .214. The contest marked the final one for CU seniors Houts and Sarah Schulze.
Payton led UNI with 11 kills and now owns all seven triple-doubles recorded within the MVC this season. Shannon Aschoff and Beth Discher each had nine kills for UNI in a supporting role. The Panthers had 47 kills, seven aces, 55 digs and nine blocks while hitting .333 for the evening.
NOTES: Northern Iowa's 27-match winning streak is the nation's second-longest active string, trailing only two-time defending champion Penn State's NCAA-record march of 95 consecutive victories ...Creighton is now 1-38 all-time against ranked teams ...Creighton is now 4-11 in the MVC Tournament all-time, including an 0-5 mark in the semifinals (all against UNI) and a 3-6 mark under Kirsten Bernthal Booth ...Creighton finished the year tying school records for matches played (31) ...School records set by Creighton in 2009 included home matches (15), blocks per set (3.08), total blocks (354.5) and block assists (599) ...Creighton had won 10 straight home matches played on Friday's ...Allie Oelke tied a school-record for an outside hitter by reaching double-digit digs for a 15th straight contest. Oelke finished with 11 digs ...Jessica Houts passed JoDe Cieloha for fourth in CU history with 1,385 career kills ...Sarah Schulze had five digs. Her 82 digs in MVC Tourney action are a school-record, three more than Bianca Rivera ...Creighton's final stat leaders for 2009 include Jessica Houts in kills (331), kills per set (2.88), hitting percentage (.254), block assists (154), total blocks (166) and blocks per set (1.44); Megan Bober in assists per set (9.63) and assists (1107); Nayka Benitez in aces (43), aces per set (0.37), digs (516) and digs per set (4.49); and Laurel Sanford in block solos (15) ...Saturday's final will be televised by Fox Sports Net Midwest.