LINCOLN, Neb. -- Creighton defeated Nebraska in a spring exhibition between a pair of nationally ranked volleyball teams located 55 miles apart who didn't meet a year ago. Scores of the match in favor of the visiting Bluejays were 25-17, 22-25, 27-25, 20-25, 15-13.
The contest was the final scheduled contest at the venerable NU Coliseum, long-time home to the storied Husker volleyball program.
Creighton never trailed in the opening set, dominating the hosts. CU scored the first three points of the match on kills from Katie Neisler and Kelli Browning followed by an Ashley Jansen ace. CU would use a 6-0 run a short time later to move ahead 11-3 on a double-block by Lauren Smith and Savannah Smith. The lead would reach as large as 21-11 before CU closed out the set by a 25-17 margin. Neisler, who had 3 kills all of 2012, had five kills in the first frame and got help from Leah McNary (4 kills), Kelli Browning (3 kills) and Lauren Smith (2 kills, 3 blocks) while hitting .500 and holding NU to .148 hitting.
The second set featured 14 ties and seven lead changes before Nebraska prevailed, 25-22. Creighton looked to be in good shape with a late 21-19 lead, only to watch the Cornhuskers close out the set with a 6-1 burst. A double-block of Neisler by Amber Rolfzen and Hayley Thramer swung the momentum as the long rally gave NU a 22-21 lead. Neisler had four kills and McNary and Browning three each in the second set for CU, which hit .103 in the frame. NU was led by five kills by Kelsey Robinson, who had five kills in 10 swings to pace NU's attack.
Creighton owned a 5-3 lead when NU's top returner, Morgan Broekhuis, checked in for the first time. The Jays would pull away to build an 11-7 lead, only to let NU rally to retake the lead at 13-12. Creighton would claw back from a 22-19 deficit to tie the score at 23-all, then survive to NU set points at 24-23 and 25-24 before making the most of their opportunity. NU made a service error to knot the score at 25-all, then took advantage of an attack error by Alexa Strange to earn a set point of their own. CU made the most, as Savannah Smith and Browning stuffed Kelsey Fien on set point. Robinson had seven kills in the set for NU, but CU's balance included four kills by McNary and four digs by Kate Elman to counterbalance NU.
The fourth set was just as close as the others, featuring 10 ties. A Broekhuis kill gave NU the lead for good at 20-19, and she then would serve the next two points to give NU an insurmountable lead. NU took the set, 25-20, its largest lead of the set. Broekhuis had five kills and Fien had four more putaways in the frame to pace NU, while CU got five kills and three blocks from Browning in the fourth set.
Creighton raced to a 9-4 lead in the fifth set before NU slowly chipped away. The Huskers got within 10-8 on a kill from Fien, and within one at 11-a0 after a CU attack error. Consecutive kills by NU's Robinson tied the score for the first time at 13-all in the fifth. The Jays didn't let the crowd of 2,601 get to them though, closing out the match with kills by Lauren Smith and Neisler for the victory.
Neisler, who owns 14 kills and three career blocks in 178 sets during her first two seasons mostly as a defensive specialist, finished with 13 kills, nine digs and three blocks for the Jays. McNary topped CU with 15 kills, while Browning had 12 kills and nine blocks. Sicner had a solid all-around night with 49 assists, six blocks, five digs and four kills, while Elman led the defense with 17 digs. Creighton had 56 kills, one ace, 62 digs and 16.0 blocks while hitting .184.
Nebraska was paced by 21 kills from Robinson, 12 from Fien and 10 by Broekhuis. NU's Alexa Strange had 55 assists and 10 digs, while Kadie Rolfzen had a match-high 21 digs. NU finished with 62 kills, three aces, 67 digs and nine blocks while hitting .144.
The match was the third of the spring for Creighton, which also included a win over South Dakota and a five-set loss vs. Iowa State.
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