2010 Year-End Recap Creighton’s 2010 season will long be remembered as a season of breakthroughs that helped set the stage for future success. For most programs, it’s a gradual process for teams to reach their first MVC Tournament final, reach their first NCAA Tournament, or notch their first NCAA Tournament victory. For Creighton, those three milestone accomplishments took place in the span of seven days, leaving a lasting legacy that future teams will strive to duplicate, and exceed, in the years to come. Creighton finished the 2010 season with a 21-12 record, and third place finish in the Valley standings with a 13-5 record in the league race. The 21 victories matched the program’s modern school record, and included some of the program’s best wins in recent years. Expectations coming into 2010 were mixed. The program was coming off a 14-17 record, its first losing record since 2003. Jessica Houts and Sarah Schulze, two four-year starters, had graduated and left a huge hole to fill. The Bluejays were picked fourth in the preseason MVC poll, a testament to the program’s seven straight top-five finishes as much as anything. An injury to star middle blocker Laurel Sanford midway through the team’s season-opening victory over San Francisco contributed to some early struggles. The Jays lost four-set matches to Lipscomb and Kansas to close the Bluejay Invitational. Sanford was also held out of an Aug. 31 match vs. No. 7 Nebraska, which saw a sellout crowd of 2,514 fans pack D.J. Sokol Arena in the Huskers first visit to campus since 1980. Creighton took its 1-3 record to St. Louis, Mo., the second week of the year. The Jays swept host Saint Louis, avenging a 2009 loss to one of the Atlantic-10’s top teams. A heartbreaking five-set loss to Iowa preceded a sweep over Wake Forest that gave Creighton a second-place showing in St. Louis. The Jays carried that momentum the following weekend to the Marquette Invitational. Another two-point five-set loss opened the weekend before the Jays responded with a 3-0 sweep over Marquette and 3-1 win over preseason Mid-American Conference division favorite Central Michigan. Little did the Jays know that the impressive 3-0 victories over Saint Louis, Marquette and Wake Forest would pay huge dividends on Selection Sunday. Armed with a 5-5 record heading into league play, the Jays took to the road to face a 9-1 Southern Illinois team and a 10-1 Evansville club. The Jays swept both opponents, an eye-opening weekend that lifted the record to 7-5 on the year. The Jays returned home to host preseason league favorite Northern Iowa. The Jays split the first two sets and had a set point opportunity in the third, before eventually dropping a 3-1 match. Creighton would beat Bradley the following evening to start a five-match win streak. Capping the win streak was back-to-back five-set victories over league heavyweights Missouri State and Wichita State. Those wins, more than anything else, gave the team the confidence it needed to know it could compete for a league title. Creighton stubbed its toe in a loss at Drake on Oct. 16th, finishing the first half of the league slate tied for second place with a 7-2 mark. The Jays would open the back nine with a sweep at Bradley before dropping a pair of 27-25 sets in a 3-0 loss at UNI. Creighton returned home to beat Indiana State and Illinois State, only to drop yet another five-set match by two points, this time against Wichita State. Still stinging from that near-miss, the Jays would be swept again the next evening at Missouri State. Creighton closed its season with three straight home wins, beating Drake, Evansville and Southern Illinois to end the conference slate 13-5 and clinch the third seed in the Valley Tournament. For the second straight year at the Valley Tournament, Creighton would open with Drake. And for the second straight year, Creighton dispatched the Bulldogs with ease to open league tourney action. Creighton advanced to play Wichita State in the tournament semifinals. Creighton had reached the semi’s five times previously, and lost each time to Northern Iowa. Finally on the other side of the bracket as the Panthers, the Jays took advantage. Creighton cruised to a 2-0 lead and would eliminate the Shockers in four sets, setting the stage for the program’s first tournament final and giving Creighton its 20th win of the fall. In the final, Creighton would face tournament host and longtime nemesis Northern Iowa. The Jays battled the No. 11 Panthers closely, only to fall in four sets. It was the sixth straight season that UNI had eliminated Creighton from the Valley Tournament. The finals appearance, combined with an RPI of 29 on Selection Sunday, left those in the program hopeful of a first-ever NCAA bid. The team gathered privately at D.J. Sokol Arena to watch the show, and erupted when their name appeared on the screen. Creighton would face No. 16 Iowa State in the first round of the tournament, in a match played in Minneapolis, Minn. The Cyclones, one of the top programs in the Midwest, were coached by Omaha native Christy Johnson-Lynch and featured three returning All-Americans. Creighton showed no signs of nerves in its tournament debut. The Jays went up 9-4 to start the contest, but would eventually fall behind 24-21. The Jays incredibly saved three set points, then went on a run of its own to win a 27-25 first set when Heather Thorson and Megan Bober teamed to stuff Cyclone All-American Victoria Henson on set point. The teams would alternate wins in the next three sets, setting the stage for a winner-take-all fifth set. The Jays trailed 4-2 early before eventually taking a 5-4 lead on consecutive blocks by Sanford and Bober. The Jays would take the lead for good at 8-6 when it forced Henson into back-to-back attack errors as the team’s switched benches. Creighton continued to build on its momentum, going ahead 12-8 on an Alicia Runge kill. The teams then traded six straight sideouts, getting a kill by Sanford to cap the 15-11 Bluejay victory that will forever rank as one of the top wins in program history. The reward for beating Iowa State was a second-round match-up with sub-regional host No. 12 Minnesota. Creighton played a strong match against the Gophers, but each set saw UM pull away late to claim a 25-19, 30-28, 25-20 triumph. Runge led Creighton on the season in kills with 463, while Sanford (115) and Bober (114) finished as the top blockers. Two women who shared the libero role, Nayka Benitez (537) and Julianne Mandolfo (531) both had more than 530 digs, with Benitez also topping the team with 39 aces. Bober was named first-team all-Valley, first-team all-Region, and an honorable-mention All-American. Runge and Sanford were second-team all-league picks, while Mandolfo was an all-freshman pick. Additionally, Kirsten Bernthal Booth was named National Coach of the Year by CVU.com.
Radio Broadcast Summary Creighton aired 28 matches on the radio this season, including 23 on KOIL (1180 AM) and five others on KKAR (1290 AM). The matches were also streamed live free on-line at http://www.gocreighton.com as well as the radio station websites. Brad Burwell served as the play-by-play man for all but one of the 28 broadcasts. He worked with Erin Swanson for 10 matches, Rob Anderson for 12 matches, Lauren Bloemke twice and Amanda Cvejdlik twice. Burwell also worked solo once. Creighton’s NCAA Tournament match on Dec. 4 was broadcast by Chris Tubbs and Anderson.
Video Webcast Summary Creighton did video webcasts for all its home matches in 2010, while also providing links to the opponents feeds when available. The matches were webcast through www.gocreighton.com. A subscription cost $10.95 for one month or $34.95 for four months.
Television Summary Creighton appeared on television twice in 2010. Ironically, both matches were against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. The Oct. 23 regular-season match was televised statewide on Mediacom, while the Nov. 27 MVC Tournament final against the Panthers was aired by Fox Sports Net and aired in Omaha on Cox Cable channel 2.
Live Stats Summary All of Creighton’s matches had live stats in 2010. Creighton’s home matches used a new live stats platform in conjunction with www.bcsstats.com to deliver the stats to mobile devices for the first time.
The Coaches Creighton was coached by Kirsten Bernthal Booth (Truman State, 1997), who owns a 141-101 record through eight seasons with the Bluejays. She became the program’s all-time winningest coach on Aug. 25, 2007 with a 3-0 win over Stephen F. Austin, joined the 100-win club with an Oct. 31, 2008 win at Drake, and led the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010. Following the 2010 season, Booth was named National Coach of the Year by CVU.com. Booth came to Creighton after going 112-41 in three years at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Booth played volleyball at Truman State, where she was named conference MVP, an Academic All-American and Missouri’s 1997 NCAA Woman of the Year. She ranked third in Division II history with 6,077 assists when she graduated. Booth was helped by assistant coaches Tom Mendoza and Angie Oxley Behrens and volunteer assistant Amanda (Gates) Sjuts.
Booth Named National Coach of the Year Kirsten Bernthal Booth was named the National Coach of the Year by CVU.com (Collegiate Volleyball Update) following the 2010 season. Booth led Creighton to a 21-12 season and its first NCAA Tournament win after going 14-17 in 2009 and then graduating two seniors.
The Votes Are In Creighton made its first-ever appearance in the AVCA Top 25 Poll, garnering three votes in the year-end poll released on Dec. 21. The poll includes 25 teams, as well as all other programs to be mentioned on multiple ballots. In the final poll, Creighton’s three points were good enough to place the program 36th overall. Iowa State, the team Creighton beat in the NCAA Tournament, dropped from 16th to 25th for the final poll. Minnesota, the team that beat Creighton, moved up from 12th to 10th in the final poll.
First In MVC History Volleyball helped Creighton record an unprecedented first in Missouri Valley Conference history. No school had ever had its volleyball and women's soccer teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament in the same fall. Taking it a step further, Creighton’s men’s soccer team also reached the NCAA’s this fall. The only 10 schools nationally with an NCAA Tournament team in men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball were Creighton, California, Duke, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn, Penn State and UCLA.
Against NCAA Tournament Teams Creighton played a strong schedule in 2010. Creighton played 12 matches against NCAA Tournament qualifiers, going 4-8, with wins over Wichita State (twice), Iowa State and Missouri State. Creighton also lost to Northern Iowa (three times), Lipscomb, Nebraska, Missouri State, Wichita State and Minnesota.
NCAA Tournament History Creighton was one of eight teams making its NCAA Tournament debut in 2010, joining Auburn, Austin Peay, Cal State Fullerton, High Point, Sacred Heart, South Carolina State and Virginia Tech. Of the newcomers, only Creighton, Auburn and Virginia Tech won their first-round matches.
Tournament Experience Before this year, none of Creighton’s current student-athletes have ever played in the NCAA Tournament, but that didn’t mean those within the program lacked postseason success. Assistant coach Angie Oxley Behrens played in four straight NCAA Tournaments from 1997-2000 at Nebraska, winning a national title as a senior. Nebraska was 18-3 in 21 NCAA Tournament matches during Behrens time at NU. Volunteer assistant coach Amanda (Gates) Sjuts played in four straight NCAA Tournaments from 2005-08, winning a national title as a senior. Nebraska was 14-3 in 17 NCAA Tournament matches during Sjuts’ time at NU. Assistant coach Tom Mendoza was a volunteer assistant coach at Michigan State in 2007, when the team went 2-1 in the NCAA’s. Head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth experienced success in the postseason at the NJCAA Championships at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her 2002 team finished as national runner-up, while her 2003 squad took fourth at nationals. Senior libero Nayka Benitez advanced to a pair of NJCAA Tournaments while at Western Nebraska Community College in 2007-08. She was named to the all-tournament team in 2007 as the Cougars won the national title, while her 2008 team finished in third place. Senior OH Alicia Runge won a national title at the NJCAA level as well in 2006 while playing for Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Her 2007 team also advanced to nationals, placing seventh.
The Case For Creighton Creighton had numerous credentials that merited its inclusion into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. Consider the following: -Creighton's official RPI entering Selection Sunday stood at 29, just five spots behind Iowa State. -Creighton finished alone in third place in the Missouri Valley Conference, the nation’s No. 6 ranked league. In the last eight years, the No. 6-ranked conference has averaged 3.5 bids per NCAA Tournament. -Creighton headed into Selection Sunday having gone 17-6 in its previous 23 matches, and 8-4 in its last 12 contests. -Creighton went just 1-4 in five matches from Aug. 28-Sept. 4 that Laurel Sanford did not start due to an ankle injury. Sanford led the team in blocks per set and hitting percentage while ranking second in kills per set. -Creighton put together an aggressive non-conference schedule that ranked 15th-strongest nationally according to RichKern.com on Selection Sunday. -Creighton was 5-7 against top-60 teams on Selection Sunday, including 3-0 road sweeps at No. 48 Marquette and No. 57 Saint Louis. -Creighton ranked second nationally in digs per set and was one of eight squads nationally to be in the top-51 in both digs per set and blocks per set on Selection Sunday. -The third seed of the MVC Tournament has now reached the NCAA Tournament in four of the past five years. Including 2010, three of those four previous qualifiers reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. -Creighton claimed 13 league wins this season. In the last five years (including 2010), 12 of the 16 MVC schools with 13 or more league wins made the NCAA Tournament. The nine qualifiers (before this year) would go 6-3 in first-round action of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s teams with 13 or more MVC wins (CU, UNI, WSU) went 1-2 in the first round. -Since 2004, 273 of the 280 teams that ranked in the top-40 of the RPI advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Valley On The Rise A strong non-conference season lifted the Missouri Valley Conference into sixth place of the annual league rankings provided by RichKern.com. The league had never finished a season higher than ninth. In the past nine years (including 2010), the No. 6 ranked conference has garnered 32 NCAA Tournament bids, an average of 3.56 per season, receiving three or more in eight of those campaigns. Here’s a list, year-by-year, of the No. 6 rated conference and how many bids they earned, since 2002: Year League NCAA Bids 2002 Big West 5 2003 Big West 6 2004 Western Athletic 3 2005 BIG EAST 2 2006 Mountain West 3 2007 Mountain West 3 2008 Atlantic Coast 3 2009 Mountain West 3 2010 Missouri Valley 4 In the nine seasons listed above, 16 teams have finished in third place (or tied for a spot equivalent to third). Twelve of those teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
More Conference Numbers According to the RKPI, the top eight leagues, in order, are Big Ten, Pacific-10, Big 12, Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Missouri Valley, Big West and Mountain West. The MVC was 16-16 against the other top-eight leagues, going 3-5 against the Big Ten, 6-7 against the Big 12, 1-0 against the Pacific-10, 2-0 against the Southeastern, 2-3 against the Atlantic Coast and 2-1 against the Mountain West. The MVC did not meet the Big West. The only leagues with more than the MVC’s four top-40 teams were the Big Ten and the Pacific 10 Conferences. Likewise, the only leagues with more than the MVC’s six top-90 teams were the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Pacific 10 Conferences.
MVC Success In The NCAA’s The Missouri Valley Conference owns a 20-43 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament, including a 17-26 mark in first-round matches. The Valley has made tremendous strides since 1994, however, going 16-13 in first-round matches since then. Northern Iowa is the only team in league history to ever reach the Sweet 16, doing so in 1999, 2001 and 2002.
RPI Facts Creighton owned an official year-end RPI ranking of 32nd on Dec. 20th. Creighton had been 55th in the initial RPI on Oct. 4, 32nd on Oct. 11, 40th on Oct. 18th, 44th on Oct. 25th, 41st on Nov. 1st and 46th on Nov. 8th, 44th on Nov. 15th and 40th on Nov. 22nd and 29th on Nov. 29th. By comparison, Creighton’s final year-end RPI was 56th in 2007 and 46th in 2008 in a pair of years in which the Jays ended up on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Learning To Dance With A Win Creighton was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010. Not only had all the other teams in the Minneapolis sub-Regional played in previous NCAA Tournaments, but they also played the Gophers in the Sports Pavilion. Iowa State had been 9-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and won its debut in 1995, 3-0, over Idaho. The Cyclones have played Minnesota in the NCAA’s once, beating the Gophers on their home floor in four sets during the second round in 2008. North Dakota State was making its second NCAA Tournament appearance at the Division I level. In its only previous match in 2008, the Bison were swept at Minnesota. Minnesota had appeared in 15 straight previous tournaments over the years, going 30-15. The Gophers reached the NCAA title game in 2004, falling to Stanford. Minnesota’s first NCAA Tournament match came in 1989, 3-0 win over Colorado.
Dance Lessons Creighton Volleyball is the school’s seventh major team sport to reach the NCAA’s. Below is how each of them did in their initial NCAA Tournament appearance: Sport Year Record Baseball 1973 0-2 (L-L) Men’s Basketball 1941 1-1 (L-W) Women’s Basketball 1992 1-1 (W-L) Softball 1982 2-2 (W-W-L-L) Men’s Soccer 1992 0-1 (L) Volleyball 2010 1-1 (W-L) Women’s Soccer 2002 0-1 (L)
New Style, Better Results After finishing third in the nation with 3.08 blocks per set last season, Creighton found another way to win this season. This year’s Creighton team ranked second nationally with 18.94 digs per set. A look back through past NCAA stat category leaders reveals that the last team to rank in the top-five in blocks per set one year, and digs per set the other, in consecutive seasons was Sacramento State in 2005 and 2006. Creighton was one of seven schools nationally that ranked among the top-51 in both digs per set and blocks per set. That list included Creighton, Columbia, Dayton, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Montana, SMU and Wichita State.
Repeat Regional Trip Creighton’s volleyball team was the second team to participate in postseason play in Minneapolis in a three-week span. Creighton’s women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA’s and played Minnesota on Nov. 12, losing 4-2. In 2005 Creighton had two postseason teams head to the same postseason destination when Bluejay baseball and softball were both shipped to Lincoln, Neb., just two weeks apart.
Familiar Foes One thing that Creighton, Iowa State, Minnesota and North Dakota State all had in common is recent participation in the Bluejay Invitational, an event that Creighton hosts the event every season. Iowa State won the inaugural event in 2005. North Dakota State went 1-2 in the 2006 event, and Minnesota went 3-0 in 2008 en route to the title. Though it has hosted the Bluejay Invitational each of the last six seasons, Creighton has never won the event. Creighton is 8-8 all-time at the Bluejay Invitational.
Conference Honor Roll Creighton had multiple players honored by the MVC Tournament banquet on Nov. 25. Megan Bober was named first-team all-MVC, while Alicia Runge and Laurel Sanford were both second-team all-Valley choices. In addition, Julianne Mandolfo was selected as a member of the all-Freshman Team. Fitting for a team with so much balance, two other women earned a spot on the All-MVC Tournament Team, Allie Oelke and Nayka Benitez.
Record Watch Creighton broke several school records this season. Among the team marks rewritten were for matches played (33), sets played (124) and total digs (2,349). Creighton’s 21 wins tied a modern record as well.
A New December Creighton’s NCAA Tournament contests marked its first-ever matches in the month of December. All-time, Creighton is 16-15 in August, 88-103 in September, 76-75 in October and 53-59 in November matches. The Jays are now 1-1 in December.
Against Ranked Teams Creighton’s 3-2 win over No. 16 Iowa State on Dec. 3 was the highest-ranked team that Creighton has ever beaten. Creighton's 3-1 win over No. 25 Wichita State on October 2, 2009 marked its only previous win over a ranked team. Creighton had entered the match with an 0-35 record all-time against ranked teams. Creighton is now 2-43 all-time against ranked schools (2-27 under Kirsten Bernthal Booth). That includes an 0-23 road record, 1-15 at home and 1-5 at neutral sites. Creighton vs. Ranked Teams All-Time Date Opponent Result 09/01/98 at #5 Nebraska L 0-3 09/04/98 vs. #19 Texas A&M (@Pacific) L 0-3 09/05/98 at #11 Pacific L 0-3 09/14/99 at #24 Kansas State L 0-3 10/16/99 #19 Northern Iowa L 0-3 09/08/00 at #6 Hawai’i L 0-3 10/03/00 at #1 Nebraska L 0-3 09/08/01 at #24 Santa Clara L 1-3 09/09/01 vs. #13 UC-Santa Barbara (at Santa Clara) L 0-3 09/25/01 at #1 Nebraska L 0-3 10/13/01 #16 Northern Iowa L 0-3 11/09/01 at #18 Northern Iowa L 0-3 09/06/02 vs. #13 Pacific (at Columbia, S.C.) L 0-3 09/21/02 at #7 Northern Iowa L 1-3 09/29/02 at #5 Nebraska L 0-3 10/18/02 #10 Northern Iowa L 0-3 10/04/03 at #10 Northern Iowa L 1-3 11/01/03 #12 Northern Iowa L 1-3 10/10/04 vs. #5 Nebraska (North Platte, Neb.) L 0-3 09/06/05 at #24 Kansas State L 0-3 09/10/05 vs. #3 Stanford (Boulder, Colo.) L 0-3 10/11/05 at #1 Nebraska L 0-3 10/29/05 at #25 Wichita State L 1-3 09/24/06 #1 Nebraska L 1-3 08/31/07 at #1 Nebraska L 0-3 09/02/07 #18 Cal Poly L 0-3 09/15/07 at #13 Minnesota L 1-3 11/10/07 at #24 Wichita State L 0-3 08/29/08 #16 Minnesota L 0-3 08/30/08 #21 LSU L 2-3 09/27/08 #14 Wichita State L 1-3 10/05/08 #2 Nebraska L 0-3 10/24/08 at #12 Wichita State L 0-3 08/29/09 #10 Illinois L 0-3 09/01/09 at #6 Nebraska L 0-3 10/02/09 #25 Wichita State W 3-1 11/10/09 #20 Saint Louis L 0-3 11/20/09 at #21 Northern Iowa L 1-3 11/27/09 #20 Northern Iowa L 0-3 09/01/10 #7 Nebraska L 0-3 09/24/10 #16 Northern Iowa L 1-3 10/23/10 at #14 Northern Iowa L 0-3 11/27/10 at #11 Northern Iowa L 1-3 12/03/10 vs. #16 Iowa State (Minneapolis) W 3-2 12/04/10 at #12 Minnesota L 0-3
Difference Maker Creighton was 19-8 in the matches Laurel Sanford has started after going 1-4 in five matches she didn’t start following an early-season ankle injury. Creighton also won its Nov. 20 match vs. Southern Illinois when Sanford voluntarily stepped aside for the first two points to enable senior Lauren Bloemke to start. Finally healthy again, Sanford had 10 or more kills in 11 of her last 19 matches after doing that just four times in the first 55 matches of her career. With Sanford in the line-up, Creighton’s offense benefited greatly, averaging 13.64 kills per set on .223 hitting. Additionally, Creighton averaged 1.37 aces per set while yielding just 0.78 aces per set. In the six matches not started by Sanford, Creighton averaged 12.96 kills per set on .176 hitting. CU also averaged 0.87 aces per set while allowing 1.30 by the opposition. Creighton was 65-38 in the sets started by Sanford this season, but 9-12 in the sets she did not start.
Sanford’s Career Night Continues Trend Laurel Sanford had a career-high with 20 kills on .455 hitting in Creighton’s 3-1 victory over Southern Illinois on Nov. 20. Sanford also led the Jays with 11 kills on .391 hitting vs. Evansville the previous night. For her efforts, Sanford was named MVC Player of the Week on Nov. 22nd. After only 51 kills in her first eight matches while battling an ankle injury, Sanford owned 208 kills in Creighton’s last 21 matches. In that time, she averaged 2.63 kills and 1.04 blocks per set while hitting .290.
Academic Quartet Creighton had a district-high four players earn ESPN CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. Megan Bober, Allie Oelke and Alicia Runge were named second-team choices, while Brooke Boggs was a third-team pick. Oelke and Runge were also named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team this fall. It’s the third straight year for Oelke, while Runge moved up from the honorable-mention squad last fall.
Benitez Digs Up Another Record Since returning to the libero role on Nov. 13, Nayka Benitez dug at an unprecedented rate. She had 19 or more digs in all eight matches, including 33 in the MVC Tournament semifinals vs. Wichita State and 34 in the NCAA Tournament first round match vs. Iowa State. Benitez had a streak of seven straight matches of 20 or more digs, a program record, two more than the previous mark held by Bianca Rivera.
Home Sweet Home Creighton closed the regular-season with eight straight home wins thanks to triumphs vs. Evansville and Southern Illinois. Kirsten Bernthal Booth is now a combined 16-0 at home against those teams, and the Jays have won 10 straight at home over Evansville and eight in a row at home over Southern Illinois. Wins over Evansville and Southern Illinois over the weekend gave Creighton an eight-match home win streak to end the season, longest in program history. Earlier this year the Jays tied a school record by winning seven straight true road matches. Below is a list of Creighton’s longest home win streaks, as well as its longest home win streaks against the same opponent. Creighton’s Longest Home Win Streaks Wins Dates Snapped By 8 Sept. 25, 2010-Present ? ? ? 7 Oct. 17, 2008-Aug. 28, 2009 #10 Illinois, 3-0 6 Oct. 22, 2005-Sept. 2, 2006 Iowa, 3-2 4 Oct. 26-Nov. 16, 2001 Missouri State, 3-2 4 Sept. 28-Oct. 8, 2004 Missouri State, 0-3
CU’s Longest Home Win Streaks, Same Opponent Wins Opponent Dates 10 Evansville 2001-Present 9 Drake 2003-Present 8 Southern Illinois 2003-Present 7 Indiana State 2004-Present 5 Indiana State 1995-99 5 Bradley 2006-Present 5 Illinois State 2006-Present
Senior Day Honorees Creighton seniors Nayka Benitez, Lauren Bloemke, Alicia Runge and Allie Oelke were honored alongside senior manager Kevin Gebhardt on Nov. 20 prior to the win vs. Southern Illinois. Over the last four years, Creighton went 74-48, including a pair of second-place regular-season finishes in the MVC, one MVC Tournament runner-up finish, one NCAA Tournament appearance and one NCAA Tournament victory. The quartet combined for 2,342 kills, 2,695 digs, 633 blocks and 215 aces in a combined 12 seasons of action.
Bloemke Has Her Senior Moment After tearing an anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in 18 months this past July, it appeared that Lauren Bloemke’s five-year career would end. But thanks to the generosity of some teammates, she got one more chance to play on Senior Night vs. Southern Illinois on Nov. 20th. Several players contacted coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth about giving up their starting spot so that Bloemke could play again. Bloemke was announced as a starter, and began the match behind the service line for her first action since September of 2009. Bloemke served it in, and after an SIU attack error, got a second chance to serve. Upon a sideout, Bloemke was replaced by Laurel Sanford to a standing ovation at D.J. Sokol Arena.
All-Around Allie Allie Oelke finished in second-place on Creighton's all-time digs list, with 1,382 career digs. She also ranked in Creighton's career top-10 in kills (1,126/6th), aces (86/6th) and blocks (252/11th), making her one of two players (Shelly Kapler) in CU history in the top-11 in all four categories. Oelke owned 41 career double-doubles, fourth most in Creighton history.
Dig This! Nayka Benitez had 29 digs in Creighton's sweep over Drake on Nov. 13, part of a strong defensive effort that held the Bulldogs to season-lows in kills (27) and hitting percentage (.037). The 29 digs were the most in Creighton history for a three-set match, two more than the previous mark set by Janeen Piller and Bianca Rivera. For her efforts, Benitez was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week.
Julianne Mandolfo, Ace Detective Freshman Julianne Mandolfo served an ace in 11 straight matches before it was snapped on Nov. 19 vs. Evansville. That was tied for the second-longest streak in school history, as seen below, and was the longest such streak by a freshman in Creighton history. Consecutive Matches With An Ace 15 Amanda Cvejdlik, Sept. 29-Nov. 18, 2006 11 Kim Whitman, Sept. 5-Oct. 4, 1998 11 Molly Moran, Oct. 7-Nov. 10, 2000 11 Julianne Mandolfo, Oct. 2-Nov. 13, 2010 9 Melissa Weisensee, Sept. 1-20, 1995
Win The First One The team to win the first set won each of Creighton's last 18 matches, and has won 25 of Creighton's last 26 contests against MVC competition. Under Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Creighton is 121-16 when winning the first set, but 20-85 in matches it loses the opening frame.
Aces Flying At Home Nayka Benitez had 24 aces (0.69 saps.) against just nine serving errors in Creighton’s nine MVC home matches this season. That includes seven aces in a match vs. Bradley and six more against Indiana State. By comparison, Creighton had 20 total aces as a team in nine home MVC matches last year. This season Creighton had 54 aces and 55 service errors in nine MVC home matches, and 48 aces and 69 errors in nine Valley road contests.
More Ace Notes Recent serving success by Allie Oelke and Nayka Benitez have moved the duo into the top-10 in Creighton’s history for career aces, and kept Benitez in second on the career aces per set list. Service Aces, Career Name Sets No. Years 1. Molly Moran 341 145 1998-01 2. Melissa Weisensee 411 125 1994-97 3. JoDe Cieloha 398 113 1994-97 4. Shelly Kapler 388 104 1996-99 5. Carolyn Decker 300 89 2004-08 6. Allie Oelke 445 86 2007-10 7. Nayka Benitez 233 82 2009-10 8. Leah Ratzlaff 409 77 2002-05 9. Kelli Koochi 327 76 1998-01 10. Michelle Prorock 299 72 1994-96 Kailey Reyes 368 72 1998-01
Surpassing Last Year Last year’s Creighton team finished with 14 wins in 31 matches. This year’s Bluejay squad finished with 21 wins. This was the third time in the last five years that Creighton has won 20 or more matches.
Long Rallies The Norm This year’s Creighton team averaged 40.25 attack attempts per set. That figure would rank third-most in NCAA history since the current 25-point rally scoring format was started in 2008. Last year’s Evansville team ranks seventh on that list with 39.71 attempts per set. Current Creighton assistant coach Tom Mendoza was on the UE staff last season. Attack Attempts/Set, Current 25-Pt. Scoring Format Rk. Team, Year Avg. 1. IUPUI, 2008 41.16 2. Southeast Missouri State, 2009 40.56 3. Creighton, 2010 40.25 4. Illinois State, 2008 40.16 5. NJIT, 2009 40.09 6. Green Bay, 2008 39.78 7. Evansville, 2009 39.71 8. Green Bay, 2009 39.60 9. IUPUI, 2009 39.31 10. Iowa State, 2009 39.24
Chasing History Julianne Mandolfo owned 531 digs (4.28 dps.) this season and smashed a couple of school records. Her total crushed Creighton’s previous single-season record for digs by a freshman of 341 by Allie Oelke in 2007. Creighton’s record for digs per set by a freshman is 3.40 by Kailey Reyes (1998), was also obliterated by Mandolfo (4.28). Mandolfo’s 33 digs vs. Missouri State on Oct. 8 were the most in CU history by a freshman, surpassing the 30 by Melissa Walsh on Oct. 10, 1998 vs. Drake. Walsh, Oelke, Reyes and Mandolfo would all go on to earn spots on the MVC’s All-Freshman Team, with Oelke being named Freshman of the Year. Digs Per Set, Creighton Freshmen DPS Name, Year Digs SP 4.28 Julianne Mandolfo, 2010 531 124 3.40 Kailey Reyes, 1998 299 88 3.19 Allie Oelke, 2007 341 107 3.12 Sarah Schulze, 2006 253 81 2.76 Melissa Walsh, 1998 251 91
Mandolfo Chased Creighton’s MVC Dig Mark Julianne Mandolfo’s 5.50 digs per set in MVC play were fourth-most in school history for league play, just behind of the 5.82 digs per set in conference action by Janeen Piller in 2004. Creighton’s Most Digs Per Set, MVC Play DPS Name, Year Digs SP 5.82 Janeen Piller, 2004 390 67 5.81 Bianca Rivera, 2007 366 63 5.64 Bianca Rivera, 2008 372 66 5.50 Julianne Mandolfo, 2010 363 66 4.73 Katie Mehal, 2006 317 67 4.70 Nayka Benitez, 2009 329 70 4.05 Mallory Lahm, 2005 251 53 4.03 Janeen Piller, 2003 286 71 3.95 Kailey Reyes, 2001 249 63 3.85 Allie Oelke, 2010 254 66 3.79 Allie Oelke, 2009 265 70 3.650 Nayka Benitez, 2010 219 60 3.647 Melissa Weisensee, 1997 259 71 3.54 Melissa Walsh, 2001 248 70
Three Deep Diggers Creighton owned three of the MVC's top 11 in digs per set this season, as Nayka Benitez, Julianne Mandolfo and Allie Oelke ranked sixth, eighth and 11th, respectively. No league school has had three players finish in the top-10 of digs per set since 2001, when Illinois State's Abby Lewis, Erin Jones and Becky Weber turned the trick. All three of those Bluejay players have 400 digs or more this year, a first in program history. Entering this season, only five players had ever reached that milestone and the only time the Jays had owned multiple players with 400 digs in the same fall came in 2006, when Katie Mehal and Abby Baumann reached that milestone.
You Dig? Helped by three players averaging 3.74 digs per set or more, Creighton ranked second nationally in digs per set, averaging 18.94 digs per set. Yale led the way with 19.34 digs per set and was followed by Creighton (18.94) Baylor (18.91), Valparaiso (18.82) and Western Michigan (18.80).
Fab Four At the midway point of the conference season, the top of the MVC standings took on a familiar look. The first four teams in the league rankings (Northern Iowa, Creighton, Missouri State and Wichita State) all also claimed the top four spots in each of the last five seasons.
Multiple Weapons One reason for Creighton’s success is that its players consistently hit efficiently and avoid negative hitting percentages. The five players that lead Creighton in kills combined for just eight individual matches in which they hit for negative numbers. Creighton has lost each time. Laurel Sanford did not hit negative all season. Allie Oelke hit negative three times (losses vs. Toledo and at Drake and Missouri State), Megan Bober twice (losses to Kansas and Nebraska), Karisa Almgren twice (Nebraska and at Missouri State) and Alicia Runge once (at Minnesota).
Friday Night Lights Creighton was at its best on Friday nights this season, going 11-2 in such contests. That includes victories over No. 16 Iowa State, Saint Louis, Marquette, Illinois State and Wichita State. Creighton’s only Friday night losses this year were a home setback vs. No. 16 Northern Iowa on Sept. 24 and road five-set loss at Wichita State on Nov. 5. Creighton is also 17-5 in its past 22 Friday road matches in MVC play.
A Good Barometer Illinois State and Creighton have long been competitive in head-to-head match-ups. Since Kirsten Bernthal Booth’s arrival in 2003, Creighton is 10-8 against Illinois State. They are the only Valley program that Booth is within six matches of the .500 mark against. Since her arrival Booth’s Creighton teams have finished better than Illinois State in the standings five times, but behind them three times. Every other team in the MVC has beaten Creighton in the standings either 0-2 times, or 7-8 times. Opponent Booth W-L Better-Worse-Same Bradley 15-1 8-0-0 Drake 15-3 7-0-1 Evansville 15-1 8-0-0 Illinois State 10-8 5-3-0 Indiana State 13-3 7-0-1 Missouri State 4-12 2-5-1 Northern Iowa 3-19 1-6-1 Southern Illinois 17-0 8-0-0 Wichita State 6-12 0-8-0
One of a Kind Sophomore setter Megan Bober had 114 blocks. Bober was the nation’s only player to average at least 10.00 assists per set (10.26 aps.), 1.40 kills per set (1.48 kps.) and at least 0.90 blocks per set (0.92 bps.). Last season Bober had 107 blocks, easily the most ever in one year by a Creighton setter. In doing so, she became the first player in Creighton history to have both 100 blocks and 100 assists in the same season. In fact, Bober’s 0.93 blocks per set last season led the country among setters, and she was the nation’s only player to average at least 0.9 blocks and 7.5 assists per set. This year, her 0.92 blocks per set ranked second nationally among setters, trailing only National Player of the Year Carli Lloyd (1.08 bps.) from California. Earlier this season Bober became the fourth-quickest in CU history to the 2,000 mark. Creighton’s Quickest Players To 2,000 Assists Name MP Date Opponent Korie Lebeda 43 09/22/06 Drake Brittany Coleman 45 10/02/04 Southern Illinois Kailey Reyes 49 09/01/00 at Iowa State Megan Bober 55 11/05/10 at Wichita State Melissa Weisensee 66 09/15/96 at UMKC
On A Roll Creighton won 18 of its last 25 matches and its recently snapped five-match winning streak was its longest since winning the final eight matches of the 2008 regular-season. In the 81 sets during this 18-7 stretch, Creighton served 134 aces against just 166 errors, while allowing only 77 aces to the opposition. This was the ninth winning streak of five wins or more since the program’s 1994 reinstatement. Eight of those nine streaks have come under the direction of Kirsten Bernthal Booth. Consecutive Matches Won Wins Dates Snapped By 8 Oct. 25-Nov. 22, 2008 vs. Northern Iowa, 3-2 7 Sept. 4-Sept. 17, 2004 Illinois State, 3-0 6 Sept. 21-Oct. 6, 2007 Wichita State, 3-0 5 Sept. 24-Oct. 2, 1999 at Missouri State, 3-0 5 Nov. 4-19, 2005 at Northern Iowa, 3-0 5 Aug. 25-Sept. 2, 2006 Iowa, 3-2 5 Sept. 9-16, 2006 at South Dakota State, 3-1 5 Oct. 26-Nov. 9, 2007 at #24 Wichita State, 3-1 5 Sept. 25-Oct. 9, 2010 at Drake, 3-1 5 Nov. 13-26, 2010 at #11 Northern Iowa, 3-1
Defensive Display Creighton owns just 10 home matches in the last six years in which it has 90 digs or more, but six of those have come against Illinois State in the Redbirds annual trip to Omaha. Since 2005, Creighton has averaged 24.40 digs in those 25 sets played in Omaha against Illinois State. At all sites, Creighton has 1,160 digs in 54 sets versus the Redbirds since 2005 (21.48 dps.). Illinois State at Creighton, Last Six Years Date Sets CU Digs ISU Digs 10/30/10 4 90 93 10/23/09 4 92 88 11/08/08 4 106 102 09/28/07 4 114 108 10/28/06 4 111 92 10/21/05 5 97 95
Most Creighton Digs, Home Matches, Since 2005 Digs Opponent Date CU Result 114 Illinois State 09/28/07 W 3-1 111 Illinois State 10/28/06 W 3-1 106 Illinois State 11/08/08 W 3-1 103 Northern Iowa 09/17/05 L 1-3 101 Iowa 09/02/06 L 2-3 97 Illinois State 10/21/05 L 2-3 94 Missouri State 10/08/10 W 3-2 92 Illinois State 10/23/09 W 3-1 91 #25 Wichita State 10/02/09 W 3-1 90 Illinois State 10/30/10 W 3-1
Been There, Done That Creighton rallied from a 2-1 deficit to come back and beat Wichita State in five sets on Oct. 9. Four of Creighton's last five wins against the Shockers have been five-set victories. Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 24-14 in five-set matches at Creighton, and the Oct. 8-9 weekend marked the first time since 1997 that the Jays won consecutive matches in five sets.
Redbird Arena Success = MVC Success Creighton won at Illinois State on Oct. 8 for the fourth time in the last five years, but just the fifth time in regular-season action overall in school history. In those five seasons, Creighton owns a combined Valley record of 65-27 (.707), compared to a 90-138 (.395) league mark in years it has lost at Redbird Arena.
Oelke Joins 1,000/1,000 Club Allie Oelke (1,126 kills, 1,382 digs) became just the second player in school history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career, joining Melissa Walsh (1,596 kills and 1,240 digs), in that exclusive club. Walsh entered the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. Oelke reached her milestone late in the first set vs. Wichita State on Oct. 9. Most Career Kills, Creighton History Name Sets No. Years 1. Leah Ratzlaff 409 1,622 2002-05 2. Melissa Walsh 394 1,596 1998-01 3. Kelly Goc 394 1,414 2004-07 4. Jessica Houts 451 1,385 2005-09 5. JoDe Cieloha 398 1,375 1994-97 6. Allie Oelke 445 1,126 2007-Pr. 7. Amanda Cvejdlik 343 1,029 2005-08 8. Shelly Kapler 388 1,000 1996-99
Oelke Joins Century Club Allie Oelke became the 18th player in Bluejay history to play in 100 career matches when she started at Southern Illinois on Sept. 17th. The senior, who played in all 122 matches in her career to date, became just the fifth player in school history to reach 100 without missing a match, joining Korie Lebeda (119), Leah Ratzlaff (115), Melissa Weisensee (111) and Melissa Walsh (108). Oelke’s 122 straight matches played are a school-record.
Digging From The Outside Senior OH Allie Oelke had 1,382 career digs, second-most in school history and finished just 10 shy of Janeen Piller’s school record. Oelke’s dig total was also the highest in school history by a Bluejay outside hitter. Most Career Digs, Creighton History Name Sets No. Years 1. Janeen Piller 336 1,392 2001-04 2. Allie Oelke 445 1,382 2007-10 3. Kailey Reyes 368 1,258 1998-01 4. Melissa Walsh 394 1,240 1998-01 5. Melissa Weisensee 411 1,223 1994-97 6. Korie Lebeda 428 1,130 2005-08 7. Bianca Rivera 207 1,118 2007-08 8. Sarah Schulze 398 1,056 2006-09 9. Nayka Benitez 233 1,053 2009-10 10. Abby Baumann 375 935 2004-07
Mandolfo Honored, Again On Oct. 11, Julianne Mandolfo was named Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Week for the second time in three weeks. Mandolfo previously won the award on Sept. 27. A native of Omaha, Neb., Mandolfo averaged 5.80 digs, 1.20 assists, 0.20 aces and had her first career kill as Creighton defeated both Wichita State and Missouri State in five sets. It was just the second time in program history that Creighton beat the Bears and Shockers on consecutive nights. Mandolfo began her weekend with a career-best 33 digs vs. Missouri State, most in Creighton history by a freshman and most by any Valley freshman since 2008. She added a career-high eight assists, and had her first career kill to give Creighton a 11-7 lead late in the fifth set. A day later against Wichita State, Mandolfo had 25 digs, four assists and an ace in a five-set win over Wichita State. On the weekend, she was perfect in 63 serve reception attempts, a major factor the Jays allowed just three aces in 10 sets against MSU and WSU.
Sanford Joins Double-Double Club Junior MB Laurel Sanford recorded her first career double-double when she had 10 kills and 11 blocks in a three-set win at Indiana State on Oct. 2. In doing so, she became Creighton's first player since 1995 (JoDe Cieloha) with a kill-block double-double in a three-set match. It was the third time in Sanford's career she's had 10 or more blocks, but first time she's done it while also producing 10 or more kills on offense.
Mandolfo Digs This Freshman Julianne Mandolfo had 23 digs in her first appearance as Creighton’s libero in a Sept. 17 sweep at Southern Illinois. Her 23 digs were tied for fourth-most in school history for a three-set match. Mandolfo then had 27 digs in back-to-back matches vs. UNI and Bradley on Sept. 24-25, an average of 6.75 per set. For those efforts, Mandolfo was named MVC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 27th. Mandolfo added to her numbers on Oct. 1 with a 29 digs in four sets at Illinois State. For the season, Mandolfo was second on the team with 531 digs and 4.28 digs per set. Her 531 digs led all MVC freshmen. Mandolfo was also second among all MVC players with 5.68 digs per set in league play. She is also the only freshman in Creighton history with three or more matches of 20 digs, having done so 11 times now. Mandolfo has played in 33 matches and owned 531 digs. She recently became the third-quickest player in CU history to 500 career digs. Creighton’s Quickest Players To 500 Digs (Career) Name MP Date Opponent Bianca Rivera 25 11/02/07 Southern Illinois Nayka Benitez 30 11/21/09 at Bradley Julianne Mandolfo 31 11/27/10 at #11 No. Iowa Kailey Reyes 41 10/22/99 at Indiana State Melissa Walsh 48 11/05/99 Wichita State
Let’s Hit It Creighton hit .654 in the third set of its win over Bradley on Sept. 25, with 18 kills and one error in 26 attempts. The hitting percentage was the third-best mark in school history, and best by any Jays squad since hitting a school-record .684 (13-0-19) in the second set of a 15-0 win at Eastern Illinois on October 15, 2000.
Serving It Up Creighton’s serving has improved greatly since a disastrous opening night (1 ace, 21 errors) behind the service line. In Creighton’s year-ending 18-7 stretch, the Jays served up 134 aces against just 167 errors. Nayka Benitez has 35 aces compared to 39 errors in that time, while fellow senior Allie Oelke (26 aces, 21 errors) also picked up the pace down the stretch.
First Third Excellent Again Creighton started 5-1 or better in MVC play for the fourth time in Kirsten Bernthal Booth’s eight seasons at the helm. Her 2003, 2006 and 2007 squads also did so. Over her tenure, Creighton has been a collective 32-16 in the first six games of MVC play, 29-19 in the middle six, and 32-16 in the final six. Creighton by Thirds in MVC Play, Under Booth Year First 6 W-L Middle 6 W-L Last 6 W-L 2010 5-1 4-2 4-2 2009 3-3 3-3 4-2 2008 4-2 5-1 6-0 2007 6-0 3-3 5-1 2006 5-1 4-2 3-3 2005 1-5 4-2 5-1 2004 3-3 4-2 3-3 2003 5-1 2-4 2-4 Total 32-16 (.667) 29-19 (.604) 32-16 (.667)
Midway Report Creighton’s match vs. Drake on Oct. 16 finished off the first half of its MVC schedule with a 7-2 league mark. This was the fourth time in five seasons that Creighton has been 7-2 at the midpoint. Creighton has had a winning record at the midway point of conference play on 10 occasions, and qualified for the MVC Tournament each time. League Record by Year Year 1st Half 2nd Half MVC Finish 2010 7-2 6-3 3rd 2009 4-5 6-3 T-4th 2008 7-2 8-1 2nd 2007 7-2 7-2 T-2nd 2006 7-2 5-4 4th 2005 4-5 6-3 5th 2004 5-4 5-4 5th 2003 5-4 4-5 T-5th 2002 1-8 1-8 T-9th 2001 7-2 5-4 4th 2000 5-4 5-4 T-4th 1999 5-4 4-5 5th 1998 2-7 3-6 8th 1997 6-3 4-5 T-3rd 1996 2-7 3-6 T-6th 1995 3-7 3-7 T-7th 1994 2-8 1-9 T-9th Total 79-76 76-79 -- Booth era 46-26 47-25
Haunted Series Oct. 8-9 marked just the second time ever that Creighton beat Missouri State and Wichita State on consecutive nights. The first occasion came all the way back in 1997, when CU beat Missouri State on Halloween night, then topped Wichita State the following day.
Road Win Streak Record Tied Creighton’s loss at Drake on Oct. 16 snapped its seven-match win streak in true road matches. That figure had tied the previous school record. Creighton’s Longest Road Win Streaks Wins Dates Snapped By 7 Sept. 21-Nov. 9, 2007 at #24 Wichita St., 3-0 7 Nov. 21, 2009 - Oct. 2, 2010 at Drake, 3-1 6 Oct. 14-Nov. 17, 2000 at Missouri St., 3-0 5 Nov. 21, 2003-Sept. 14, 2004 at Wichita St., 3-1
Attack of the Jays Creighton hit a season-best .402 in its Oct. 2 win at Indiana State, finishing with 39 kills and four errors in 87 swings. Creighton's four errors tied its fewest in school history, done previously on Oct. 27, 1995, when Creighton hit a school-record .536 in a win over Tulsa. Creighton’s 25-7 win in the third set of its win at Indiana State was the fewest points allowed in any set since Bradley was held to six in the fifth set on Oct. 4, 2003, and fewest allowed ever in any set played to 25 by Creighton.
Seventh Heaven After just seven aces in Creighton's first 13 matches of the season, senior Nayka Benitez served up a career-high seven aces in a 3-1 victory over Bradley on Sept. 25. The figure was tied for second-most in Creighton history and was also a D.J. Sokol Arena record. Four of her aces came consecutively in the fourth set. Last year, she served five straight aces in a match against Missouri State. As a team, Creighton served up 12 aces, doubling its previous season-high and was the program’s most since Sept. 30, 2006. Benitez had 30 aces and 30 serving miscues during Creighton’s last 18 matches. Service Aces, Single-Match Aces Name, Opponent (Sets) Date 8 Carolyn Decker at New Mexico (3s) 9-4-04 7 Molly Moran vs. Drake (3s) 9-22-00 7 Kelli Koochi at Indiana State (4s) 10-19-01 7 Nayka Benitez vs. Bradley (4s) 9-25-10
Road Success When Creighton swept Southern Illinois and Evansville in consecutive road matches on Sept. 17-18, it marked just the second time in program history it had swept each set of a two-match Valley trip. Overall, Creighton was 7-6 in true road matches this year, winning six of those matches by 3-0 scores.
Bluejay Duo Earn MVC Honors On Oct. 4, Megan Bober and Laurel Sanford were honored by the Missouri Valley Conference as its Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively. Bober averaged 9.43 assists, 2.00 kills, 1.71 digs, 1.71 blocks and 0.29 aces per set as Creighton won road matches at Illinois State and Indiana State. She hit .375 in the process, while also setting the Jays to .274 hitting for the weekend. On Friday, Bober helped Creighton hand Illinois State its first home loss of the year, as she had 44 assists, nine digs, five blocks and five kills. She also had a season-best two aces, as Creighton avenged a five-set loss in Normal last season. On Saturday, Bober had a career-high with nine kills on season-best .562 hitting in 16 errorless swings. She added 22 assists, seven blocks and three digs as Creighton held the Sycamores to .018 hitting. She also set Creighton to .402 hitting, sixth-best in school history, as the Jays tied a program-record with just four hitting errors. The win was Creighton's seventh straight on the road, tying another school-record. This was the first time that Bober has been honored as MVC Player of the Week. Sanford averaged 2.86 kills, 2.14 blocks and 0.71 digs while hitting .372 on the weekend. She had 10 kills, five digs, four blocks and hit .269 in a Creighton win at Illinois State on Friday. Her five digs were a career-high. Sanford then had her first career double-double at Indiana State on Friday, finishing with 10 kills on 17 swings, hitting .529, while recording 11 blocks. She had four kills and five blocks in the first set, four more blocks in the second set, and four kills and two blocks in the final set. The 11 blocks for Sanford is the most in any three-set match in the MVC this season. Impressively, nine of her blocks came against Valley kill leader Morgan Dall, who had seven kills against 12 hitting errors and hit -.143 for the night in 35 swings. This was the third time in Sanford's career that she's won this award, and second time in three weeks (also Sept. 24, 2010).
MVC Honored Bluejay Duo Two members of the Creighton Volleyball team earned recognition from the Missouri Valley Conference on Sept. 20 after helping the Bluejays to road sweeps of Southern Illinois and Evansville. Allie Oelke was named MVC Player of the Week and MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week, while Laurel Sanford was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week. A senior outside hitter from Chanhassen, Minn., Oelke averaged 4.00 kills, 4.33 digs and 1.00 blocks per set. She hit a collective .333 for the weekend, hitting .312 on Friday and .360 on Saturday. Oelke had 12 kills and 13 digs in both matches, giving her 35 career double-doubles. She had three aces and four blocks in the win at SIU, then added two blocks and four assists in the victory at Evansville. She also owns a 3.794 GPA in Elementary Education. Though this is the first time in her career that Oelke has been named MVC Player of the Week, she's no stranger to MVC recognition. Oelke was a four-time honoree as MVC Freshman of the Week and earned MVC Freshman of the Year honors in 2007. She was also named MVC Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 9, 2009, and was a 2009 MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team selection. A junior middle blocker from Eagan, Minn., Sanford averaged 2.67 kills, 1.83 blocks and 0.50 digs per set. Sanford had eight kills, four blocks, three digs and an ace in the Jays sweep of Southern Illinois. She then added eight kills and seven blocks in Creighton's sweep over UE on Saturday night. Three of her blocks vs. the Purple Aces came in the final set, including one to end the contest.
Putting It Down Alicia Runge had one of the most efficient matches of her career on Sept. 25 vs. Bradley, pounding 17 kills on 26 swings. She had just one error, giving her a robust .615 hitting percentage for the evening. Runge's .615 hitting is the second-best in Creighton history for a player with 25 or more attacks in a match, and is also a D.J. Sokol Arena record. Attack Percentage, Match (min. 12 kills) Pct. Name (K-E-TA), Opponent (Sets) Date .750 Katy Grady (12-0-16) vs. Auburn (3s) 8-30-03 .750 Abby Baumann (12-0-16) at San Diego St. (3s) 9-03-05 .737 Lauren Bloemke (14-0-19) vs. Evansville (3s) 11-04-07 .714 Amanda Cvejdlik (15-0-21) vs. Drake (3s) 10-03-08 .667 Katy Grady (12-0-18) at Drake (3s) 9-27-03 .667 Kelly Goc (14-0-21) vs. Stephen F. Austin (3s) 8-25-07 .632 Amanda Cvejdlik (12-2-19) vs. Indiana St. (3s) 10-22-05 .625 Kelly Goc (26-1-40) vs. Drake (4s) 11-16-07 .615 Alicia Runge (17-1-26) vs. Bradley (4s) 9-25-10 .607 Carolyn Decker (17-0-28) vs. Bradley (3s) 11-13-04
Dos Liberos After playing Nayka Benitez at libero for each of the program’s 41 matches the past two seasons, freshman Julianne Mandolfo claimed that role on Sept. 17. Benitez was the libero for 68 sets this season, while Mandolfo was in that position for 56 sets. This marks just the third different season in the nine-year history of the libero that Creighton has used multiple liberos in the same season. In 2006, Katie Mehal (113 sets) and Sarah Schulze (three sets) both wore the alternate jersey. In 2005, five different players were libero at one point: Mallory Lahm (51 sets), Emily Greisch (12 sets), Brittany Coleman (38 sets), Molly Lahr (one set) and Mehal (three sets).
How Do You Win The MVC? Start 1-0 At the start of the conference season, all 10 Missouri Valley Conference schools harbored dreams of a regular-season league title. Since the beginning of the Gateway Conference (which later merged to form the Missouri Valley Conference in 1992) in 1983, no school has ever won the regular-season title after dropping its first league match of the season. Taking it a step further, the 2008 Missouri State team is the only club to win the MVC Tournament after starting 0-1 in league play.
Home Losses Are Also Devastating The 2006 Northern Iowa and 2007 Wichita State teams are the only programs in MVC history to lose a home conference match and still win the regular-season title outright in that same season. It’s also worth noting that 16 of the last 17 regular-season MVC champions (including Northern Iowa this year) finished the year with one regular-season league loss or fewer. The exception was that 2006 UNI team that was 16-2, with both losses coming against Wichita State.
Runge on a Tear Alicia Runge had 10 or more kills in her final match of 2009, and her first 15 contests of 2010. That streak came to an end on Oct. 2 when she had six kills on just 18 swings at Indiana State. The stretch was third-longest in Bluejay history. Consecutive Matches, 10 or More Kills 58 Leah Ratzlaff, Sept. 13, 2003-Sept. 9, 2005 19 JoDe Cieloha, Sept. 26-Nov. 21, 1997 16 Alicia Runge, Nov. 27, 2009 - Oct. 1, 2010 14 Kelly Goc, Sept. 8-Oct. 19, 2007 13 JoDe Cieloha, Sept. 7-Oct. 18, 1996
Road Sweeps To Start Creighton has swept six of its 11 true road matches to date, sweeping Saint Louis, Marquette, Southern Illinois, Evansville, Indiana State and Bradley, in addition to a 3-1 win at Illinois State. This was the first time in program history that the team has started a season 6-0 on the road. The Jays, who swept Bradley in Peoria to end the 2009 regular-season, swept five straight true road matches for the first time in school history. Creighton’s seven-match road win streak tied a school-record, also done in 2007.
All-Tourney Duo, Again For the second straight weekend, Alicia Runge and Megan Bober picked up all-tournament team honors at the Marquette Invitational while leading the Jays to a second-place showing. Bober averaged 9.58 assists, 2.25 digs, 1.76 kills and 0.83 blocks per set while hitting .319. This was her second career honor to an all-Tourney Team. Runge averaged 4.58 kills and 0.83 digs per set while hitting .358. It was the third straight tournament that the senior has been recognized.
Two Points From A Title x 2 Creighton finished second in each of its final two preseason tournaments. In both events, the Jays went 2-1 and their only loss was by two points in the fifth set. In the Marcia E. Hamilton Active Ankle Challenge, Creighton lost 20-18 in the fifth set against Iowa. At the Marquette Invitational, Creighton lost 15-13 in the fifth set of a match vs. Toledo. On the season, Creighton was 15-14 in sets decided by exactly two points.
Non-Conference Report Card Creighton started 5-5 after a non-conference schedule gauntlet full of postseason hopefuls, including three teams picked to win their conferences (Central Michigan, Nebraska, Lipscomb). If the past is any indication, good things happen when Creighton goes .500 or better through 10 matches. The last time Creighton was 5-5 after 10 matches in 2008, the Jays finished a best-ever 15-3 in the MVC and alone in second place. In both 2006 and 2007, Creighton was over .500 after 10 matches and would finish 21-10 overall. All eight Bluejay teams to be .500 or better after 10 matches finished fifth or higher in the league, and all would also post a winning record in Valley play to finish with a winning overall record.
Tied For First, But Second Place Though Creighton finished with a 2-1 mark that was identical to Iowa’s final record at the Marcia E. Hamilton Active Ankle Challenge, it was the Hawkeyes who celebrated with the team title. With two teams finished at 2-1, Iowa won the tiebreaker by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Creighton. Had Saint Louis been able to maintain its 5-0 lead early in the fifth set to defeat Iowa in the tournament finale, Creighton would have won the event since Creighton defeated Saint Louis head-to-head.
Comeback For The Ages Falls Short Creighton posted a comeback for the ages on Sept. 4, surviving seven different match point opportunities before eventually falling 20-18 in the fifth set of a match vs. Iowa. Creighton trailed 14-9 before winning five consecutive points to tie the score. Creighton also held on when facing match point at 15-14 and 18-17. Iowa also survived multiple match points, getting sideouts with CU serving for the match at 16-15 and 17-16. The combined 38 points between Creighton and Iowa in the fifth set were the most in school history. Below are the most points scored in a fifth set in school history. Creighton is 11-2 all-time when scoring 16 or more points in the fifth set of a match. CU - Most Points Scored, 5th Set, School History Score Opponent Date W 19-17 vs. Idaho 09/02/00 W 19-17 Evansville 09/27/02 W 18-16 Evansville 11/14/98 W 18-16 vs. McNeese State 08/30/03 L 18-20 vs. Iowa 09/04/10 W 17-15 at Wichita State 10/13/06 W 17-15 at Drake 09/11/07 L 16-18 Drake 11/15/02 W 16-14 at Drake 09/13/97 W 16-14 at Evansville 11/04/00 W 16-14 Wichita State 10/10/03 W 16-14 vs. Marquette 09/11/05 W 16-14 at Northern Iowa 11/18/05
Runge & Bober Earn All-Tourney in St. Louis A pair of Creighton players were named to the Marcia E. Hamilton Active Ankle Challenge All-Tournament Team in St. Louis on Sept. 3-4. Senior OH Alicia Runge earned the honor after averaging 4.91 kills and 0.55 blocks per set while hitting .254 in three matches. Runge led CU in kills all three matches, including a career-high 26 vs. Iowa. Also recognized was sophomore setter Megan Bober. Bober averaged 10.55 assists, 2.45 digs, 1.00 blocks and 1.45 kills per set, helping Creighton to .228 hitting. Iowa’s Bethany Yeager was named MVP, and joined on the All-Tournament Team by Mallory Husz (Iowa), Alyssa Deno (Saint Louis) and Kelsey Jones (Wake Forest).
Savannah Smith Shines; Named MVC FOW True freshman MB Savannah Smith had a big weekend in St. Louis on Sept. 3-4, averaging 1.55 kills, 1.64 blocks and hitting .350 in three matches. Smith had seven blocks and four kills vs. Saint Louis, five kills and seven blocks while hitting .385 vs. Iowa, and wrapped up her weekend with a career-best eight kills, four blocks and .389 hitting versus Wake Forest. Smith followed her weekend with seven kills and .400 hitting vs. Toledo on Sept. 10th, becoming Creighton’s first freshman ever to pound five or more kills while hitting .385 or better in three consecutive matches. For her efforts, Smith was named MVC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 5th.
Mandolfo Digs Deep Freshman DS Julianne Mandolfo became the second player (and first non-libero) in school history to record 10 or more digs in the first six matches of her career, a streak that was snapped on Sept. 4 vs. Wake Forest. Mandolfo’s 13 digs in her debut vs. San Francisco were third-most in school history, and tops of any non-libero. Former libero Bianca Rivera owns the school record with 10 or more digs in the first 27 matches of her career in 2007.
Runge On Bluejay Invite All-Tourney Team Alicia Runge was Creighton’s top offensive weapon all weekend at the Bluejay Invitational, and that excellence was rewarded with a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Runge led Creighton in kills during all three matches, including 18 vs. San Francisco and 19 versus Lipscomb. Both of those matches eclipsed her 2009 high of 17 kills in a contest. Runge was joined on the All-Tournament Team by San Francisco’s Joan Caloiaro, Lipscomb’s Jake Pease and Alex Kelly, and the Kansas tandem of Allison Mayfield and Karina Garlington. Garlington was named tournament MVP.
Almgren All Over Junior Karisa Almgren had a breakthrough weekend at the Bluejay Invitational, posting 25 kills and nine blocks on .250 hitting in 60 swings. Compare that to her first two years with the Bluejays, when Almgren amassed 18 total kills and nine total blocks. Almgren’s top offensive match of the opening weekend saw her claim single-match career highs with 11 kills and five blocks vs. Lipscomb. She eclipsed that personal best with 12 kills while hitting .400 in a three-set victory over Saint Louis on Sept. 3. On Oct. 8 vs. Missouri State, Almgren had four of her career-high 13 kills in the fifth set of the 3-2 victory. Almgren ranked fourth on the team with 230 kills and third with 659 attack attempts this fall.
Thunder Of Thorson Karisa Almgren isn’t the only Bluejay that stepped up, as sophomore Heather Thorson also showed off her improved skills in 2010. Thorson averaged 1.50 kills per set as well as 0.81 blocks per set. That includes 11 kills while hitting .400 in the MVC Tournament quarterfinals vs. Drake and a career-best 12 kills on .375 hitting vs. No. 16 Iowa State on Dec. 3. Thorson owned 168 kills and 91 blocks this year after posting 29 kills and 22 blocks her entire freshman campaign.
Going Streaking Before being limited to just five digs on Aug. 31 vs. Nebraska, Allie Oelke had owned 10 or more digs in each of her previous 18 matches. That was the fourth-longest streak in school history, and is the longest mark by any Bluejay outside hitter. After the Nebraska contest, Oelke started a new streak that lasted 15 straight matches. She had 10 or more digs in 43 of her last 48 matches. Consecutive Matches, 10 or More Digs 43 Janeen Piller, Oct. 10, 2003-Nov. 26, 2004 27 Bianca Rivera, Aug. 24-Nov. 9, 2007 19 Bianca Rivera, Sept. 20-Nov. 28, 2008 18 Allie Oelke, Oct. 10, 2009 - Aug. 28, 2010 15 Abby Baumann, Sept. 15-Nov. 3, 2006 15 Katie Mehal, Oct. 6-Nov. 24, 2006 15 Nayka Benitez, Nov. 13, 2009-Sept. 10, 2010 15 Allie Oelke, Sept. 3-Oct. 16, 2010
Matches With 10+ Digs, Career 10+D Name Years 74 Janeen Piller 2001-04 71 Allie Oelke 2007-Pres. 65 Melissa Weisensee 1994-97 64 Kailey Reyes 1998-01 64 Melissa Walsh 1998-01
Bloemke Out With Injury Fifth-year senior MB Lauren Bloemke missed most the 2010 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during the final week of July. Bloemke had surgery on the knee on August 17th. Bloemke, who missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in her left knee in the spring of 2009, remained involved with the program as a student assistant coach and remains on pace to graduate in the spring. Bloemke ranks 19th in school history with 478 career kills and 10th in both career block assists (218) and career total blocks (254).
Game 1 Result = Match Result In its last 126 matches in which it wins set one, Creighton is 114-12. CU is 120-16 overall under Kirsten Bernthal Booth when they win set one. Creighton is just 20-85 under Booth when it drops the first set.
Taking The Fifth Creighton is 24-14 in five-set matches under Kirsten Bernthal Booth. That’s impressive since Creighton had never finished a season with a winning record in fifth sets prior to Booth’s arrival. Below is a list of Creighton’s record in five-set matches on a yearly basis: Year Set 5 W-L Total W-L 1994 0-2 5-20 1995 0-2 11-19 1996 2-6 9-19 1997 3-5 15-13 1998 2-3 7-18 1999 3-3 13-15 2000 3-3 16-12 2001 1-1 14-13 2002 1-3 3-23 2003 5-1 12-18 2004 4-0 18-11 2005 3-1 16-14 2006 4-2 21-10 2007 2-0 21-10 2008 2-3 18-9 2009 1-4 14-17 2010 3-3 21-12 Total 39-42 234-253
2-0 Better Than 0-2 Creighton is 150-8 (.949) all-time when leading a match 2-0, including an 91-2 mark under Kirsten Bernthal Booth. They own a 72-4 all-time mark in home matches they lead 2-0 in. Conversely, the Jays are 6-160 (.036) all-time when trailing a match 0-2, including an 0-53 mark in those home matches. Those six comebacks from down 0-2 are listed below: Date Opponent Sets 3-5 scores Coach 09/19/97 at Bradley 15-11, 15-13, 15-8 Wallace 10/01/99 at Drake 15-6, 17-15, 15-11 Wallace 09/03/04 vs. Montana 30-20, 30-21, 15-11 Booth 10/15/04 at Bradley 30-22, 30-23, 15-11 Booth 10/15/05 at So. Illinois 30-25, 30-24, 15-8 Booth 09/21/07 at No. Iowa 31-29, 30-26, 15-12 Booth
Records By Seed The chart below showcases the record by seed in each MVC Tournament since the current six-team format was adopted in 1995. Year-by-Year Tourney Record, By Seed Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 1995 2-0 1-1 1-1 0-1 1-1 0-1 1996 2-0 1-1 1-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 1997 2-0 1-1 1-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 1998 2-0 1-1 1-1 0-1 1-1 0-1 1999 2-0 1-1 1-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2000 2-0 1-1 1-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2001 2-0 1-1 1-1 0-1 1-1 0-1 2002 2-0 0-1 2-1 0-1 1-1 0-1 2003 1-1 2-0 1-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2004 2-0 0-1 2-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2005 1-1 2-0 1-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2006 2-0 0-1 2-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2007 0-1 2-0 1-1 0-1 2-1 0-1 2008 0-1 0-1 2-1 3-0 0-1 0-1 2009 2-0 0-1 2-1 1-1 0-1 0-1 2010 2-0 0-1 2-1 0-1 1-1 0-1 Totals 26-4 13-13 22-16 12-15 7-16 0-16
Championship Game W-L Records 12-2 3-7 0-6 1-0 0-1 0-0
Finalists Advance To NCAA’s The Missouri Valley Conference has earned 15 NCAA Tournament bids in the past five seasons. Notably, both teams to reach the MVC Tournament final have advanced to the NCAA Tournament every year in that time. The top two seeds have both advanced to the finals just twice since 2002 (2005 and 2003), but the last time the top seed beat the second seed in the final was 2001.
Preseason MVC Poll Creighton has been picked fourth in a preseason poll of Missouri Valley Conference coaches. Defending regular-season champion Northern Iowa was the unanimous pick to win the league, with Missouri State and Wichita State second and third. Creighton fourth and Drake fifth. Rounding out the rest of the league was Southern Illinois, Illinois State, Evansville, Indiana State and Bradley. Each of the past seven years Creighton has finished in the spot predicted of them or better in the preseason poll. Year Preseason Pick Finish Move 1994 11th 9th #2 1995 9th 7th #2 1996 9th 6th #3 1997 8th 3rd #5 1998 6th 8th i2 1999 T-7th 5th #2 2000 4th T-4th - - 2001 2nd 4th i2 2002 7th 9th i2 2003 9th T-5th #4 2004 5th 5th - - 2005 5th 5th - - 2006 4th 4th - - 2007 3rd T-2nd #1 2008 3rd 2nd #1 2009 4th T-4th - - 2010 4th 3rd #1
Survival of the Fittest Creighton has won four matches under Kirsten Bernthal Booth after surviving an opponent’s match point. On the other hand, Creighton is 141-1 under Booth when it reaches a match point opportunity, falling only when it wasted two match points on Sept. 4, 2010 to Iowa in an eventual 20-18 loss. Surviving Match Points, Under Booth Date Opponent MP(s) Faced Final Set 5 09/11/07 at Drake 13-14, 14-15 17-15 10/13/06 at Wichita State 12-14, 13-14, 14-15 17-15 10/10/03 Wichita State 13-14 16-14 08/30/03 vs. McNeese State 13-14, 15-16 18-16
The Votes Add Up Creighton had eight matches scheduled against teams that received votes in the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll, then added two more when it reached the NCAA Tournament. Four of those squads will visit D.J. Sokol Arena, including No. 2 Nebraska, No. 24 Northern Iowa and votegetters Wichita State and Missouri State. Creighton also plays on the road at No. 24 Northern Iowa as well as votegetters Saint Louis, Wichita State and Missouri State.
Production Returning Creighton returns 11-of-14 letterwinners from last season. Below is a breakdown of the production that returns: Stat Returners Departures Assists 1256 (94.8%) 69 (5.2%) Aces 90 (80.4%) 22 (19.6%) Digs 1377 (75.2%) 454 (24.8%) Matches Started 129 (69.4%) 57 (30.6%) Blocks 242.0 (68.3%) 112.5 (31.7%) Points 1274.0 (67.7%) 607.5 (32.3%) Kills 942 (66.6%) 473 (33.4%)
AVCA Honors CU Volleyball For Academics The Creighton volleyball program was honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association as a recipient of the 2010 AVCA Team Academic Award. Creighton previously won the award in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 are one of eight Division I schools nationwide to win the award in seven consecutive campaigns. The award honors teams that displayed excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA. Last fall the Bluejay volleyball team posted a combined GPA of 3.50.
Huskers Returned To Campus, Finally Aug. 31 marked Nebraska volleyball’s first visit the Creighton campus since 1980, when the Huskers swept a best-of-three contest at Kiewit Center. Since then, Creighton had twice hosted its in-state rival, but both of those matches took place at Qwest Center Omaha.
Crowd Control The Aug. 31 crowd of 2,514 fans vs. Nebraska was the fourth-largest home crowd in program history for match, and was the first sellout at D.J. Sokol Arena. Previously, the largest crowd at D.J. Sokol Arena had been the 2,285 that saw Creighton host Texas Tech last year on Aug. 28, 2009. Below are Creighton’s largest home volleyball crowds all-time. The top three crowds took place at Qwest Center Omaha. Largest Home Crowds, Creighton VB History Att. Opponent Date Site 13,081 #18 Cal Poly 09/02/07 Qwest 12,112 #1 Nebraska 09/24/06 Qwest 8,037 #2 Nebraska 10/05/08 Qwest 2,514 #7 Nebraska 08/31/10 Sokol 2,285 Texas Tech 08/28/09 Sokol 1,557 Northern Iowa 11/21/08 Civic 1,357 Northern Iowa 10/20/07 Civic 1,325 Indiana State 09/29/07 Civic 1,319 Northern Iowa 10/06/06 Civic 1,304 San Francisco 08/27/10 Sokol 1,250 #16 Northern Iowa 09/24/10 Sokol
Last Year Summary Creighton went 14-17 last year but managed to finish tied for fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 10-8 league record. Senior Jessica Houts ranked 12th nationally with 1.44 blocks per set and earned a spot on the all-Valley First Team for a second straight season. The stellar blocking of Houts as well as Laurel Sanford (1.30 bps.) and Megan Bober (0.93) helped Creighton rank third nationally in blocks per set. The 2009 season saw Creighton move into a new on-campus home, D.J. Sokol Arena inside the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center, as the program hosted the State Farm MVC Tournament for the first time.