This weekend, the Creighton Bluejays (14-4, 5-1 BIG EAST) completed their four-game home stand at D.J. Sokol Arena with a five set win against Xavier (11-8, 4-2 BIG EAST) on Friday, and a four-set victory over Butler (16-5, 3-3 BIG EAST) on Sunday.
With the two wins over the weekend, the Jays sit alone in first place in the BIG EAST standings.
Friday night, the Jays met the Xavier Musketeers for the first time as BIG EAST Conference members in Omaha. The teams met two weeks ago in Cincinnati, which the Bluejays won in four sets.
Xavier came out of the gate strong, winning the first set before Creighton took the next two sets. The Musketeers tied the match at two in the fourth. Set five was a back-and-forth affair that featured 10 ties and five lead changes. CU won 15-13 on a Michelle Sicner kill in the opening of the Xavier defense. Sicner found her teammates 41 times, while recording her seventh straight double-double, much to the delight of her coach.
“She made a good decision on the final play, but she’s got great court awareness to see that and take advantage of it, great decision,” said Bluejays’ head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth, who picked up her 200th win at Creighton on Friday.
Sicner was able to set her teammates up throughout the match, but opted to to finish it herself for a reason.
“I felt like I had a lot of options tonight, which helped us out. The final play, I saw an opening in the defense and put the ball there,” Sicner said following the match.
Kelli Browning and Leah McNary had 14 kills apiece in the thrilling victory.
“This was a fun match to play in. It’s only been five minutes or so and I’m still shaking with excitement over the match,” said Browning.
On Sunday, the Jays were out to avenge a defeat to Butler from the teams’ first meeting at Hinkle Fieldhouse. In front of a large crowd, mostly in pink for the annual “Pink Out” game, CU won the first two sets and lost the third before closing out the match in four. Browning and McNary again had big afternoons with 15 and 14 kills, respectively. Jess Bird added 10 kills and Lauren Smith provided nine. Sicner top 40 assists for the second time of the weekend, recording 44 on Sunday.
“I’m glad that Michelle was able to find me because I had the urge to score, which I think showed with the extra oomph I put on those kills,” Smith said.
Creighton took advantage of mistakes over the weekend as Xavier and Butler combined for 36 service errors over nine sets. Defensively, CU had 23 blocks, which continued the team’s solid play at the net.
This week, the Jays head to Milwaukee and Chicago to take on Marquette and DePaul. The Bluejays beat both teams in Omaha earlier this season. The Bluejays hold a ½ game lead over the Golden Eagles, who were swept in Omaha The match in Wisconsin will be a highly anticipated match for a few different reasons.
“They’ll have revenge on their mind,” said Bernthal Booth. “Plus it’ll be a big crowd since the men’s basketball team is having Midnight Madness afterwards.”
Odds and Ends: Creighton is up to fifth in this week’s RPI ratings ahead of teams such as Washington, unbeaten Missouri, Hawaii, Kansas and in-state foe Nebraska … The Jays find themselves 26th in the AVCA poll