-- The Creighton and Nebraska Volleyball programs closed out the spring with the "Rumble in Rice" at Rice Auditorium on the campus of Wayne State University in Wayne, Neb. Nebraska won the match in straight sets (25-15, 25-19, 25-22).
Proceeds from the event, which early estimates indicate will be more than $17,500, will go to the re-construction of the Wayne Summer Sports Complex that was destroyed by the October 4th tornado that hit the Wayne area. An auction between the sets included about 10 items donated from the schools, including an autographed Creighton basketball ($325), an autographed Tim Miles basketball ($225) and an autographed Bo Pelini football ($275). Combined with 50 percent of the sales from the tickets (an estimated $30,000), the sellout crowd of 2,050 was treated to a match between two of the Midwest's top programs.
Creighton led 1-0 after a Melanie Jereb kill to open the match, only to surrender the next five points and fall behind for good in a 25-15 loss. Jereb had four of CU's seven kills, but the Jays hit -.059 as a team thanks to several unforced errors and three NU blocks. Kelsey Fien and Kadie Rolfzen each had four kills for NU in the first set.
The teams traded eight straight sideouts to open the second frame, but CU could not open up a two-point lead and fell behind after four straight attack erorrs handed the Huskers a 7-4 lead. NU would not trail again, extending an 8-6 lead into a 14-7 advantage. Creighton clawed back late to get within 25-19, but it wasn't enough to keep from falling into an 0-2 halftime deficit. Creighton hit .087 in the second set to NU's .281.
The third set was the most competitive of the afternoon. Creighton trailed just 13-11 before NU embarked on a 5-0 run that gave NU enough distance to pull away and close out the sweep. Creighton rallied late with a 6-1 surge to draw within two points on three occasions (22-20, 23-21, 24-22), before dropping the 25-22 clincher.
Jess Bird led Creighton with 11 kills on the afternoon, hitting .474 in 19 swings. Jereb added seven kills, while Kate Elman tied for match-high honors with 15 kills. CU finished with 30 kills, one ace, 33 digs and eight blocks on .109 hitting overall.
NU was led by 12 kills by Fien, who hit .333. Justine Wong-Orantes added 15 digs, while Melanie Keil had six blocks for the Cornhuskers. An Elite Eight team a year ago, NU had 46 kills, four aces, 37 digs and eight blocks.
Creighton closes out its spring season with a trip to Nicaragua in May before reporting back to campus in early August to prepare for the fall season, where the team will seek its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five years.