OMAHA, Neb. — Senior All-American Jaali Winters tied a season-high with 25 kills and the No. 10 Creighton Volleyball team won its 11th straight match on Friday night with a 3-1 victory at No. 18 Marquette. Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-19.
Creighton’s win moves the Bluejays to 19-4 on the year and 11-0 in BIG EAST play, giving the Bluejays a two-game cushion over second-place Marquette (19-5, 9-2 BIG EAST). Creighton has now won 6-of-7 sets against Marquette this season, while the Golden Eagles have won all 27 they’ve played against the rest of the league.
“I thought it was two good teams going at each other,” said Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “It was really fun to be a part of. Our offense was good tonight and we definitely dug some balls which was good to see.”
Winters dominated the first set, finishing with nine kills and six digs to lead Creighton to the 25-20 victory. The initial frame featured 11 ties, but Creighton broke free down the stretch with a 3-0 spurt to move in front 19-16. The Golden Eagles got within one at 20-19, but Kari Zumach kill gave CU a cushion, and a Marquette service error closed out the frame. Alexa Roumeliotis had seven digs, and Winters and Brittany Witt added six more to pace the CU defense.
CU led 11-5 early in the second set before Marquette rallied. The Golden Eagles were ahead 23-22 before a Bluejay timeout. Creighton answered with the final three points of the set, closing out with consecutive kills by Megan Ballenger. Winters had eight kills and Ballenger six in the second set, as CU hit .400. That helped offset seven kills from MU standout Allie Barber.
Creighton trailed 20-15 in the third set before making a huge comeback to even the score at 22-all on a kill from Kari Zumach. The Golden Eagles answered with the next three points to win their first set in six tries against the Bluejays this fall. Anna Haak, who had three kills and four errors in the first two sets, came alive and produced seven kills in 15 swings to extend the match.
The Bluejays never trailed in the final set, jumping to a 13-7 lead early on behind some spirited play by Naomi Hickman and Witt. The Golden Eagles responded with the next four points to force a CU timeout but the visitors would regroup. Twice the Golden Eagles got within one point, but a 5-1 run stretched the margin to 20-15 and paved the way to victory. CU closed out the contest with a block by Zumach and Hickman of Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year Barber. Kloth had six kills in the final frame, while Hickman did a little bit of everything with three digs, two blocks and a kill.
Winters starred for Creighton in one of the best matches in the three-time All-American’s career. She led CU with 25 kills, 19 digs and .442 hitting against one of CU’s top league rivals, becoming the first player in program history to surpass 1,700 career kills in the process. Kloth finished with 17 kills, and Ballenger came on strong to hit .435 and collect a dozen kills. Zumach’s 10 kills were a season-high for the reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Week, as were Cole’s 55 assists. CU recorded 72 kills, 77 digs, seven blocks and two aces on .331 hitting.
“Jaali was so smart with where she was attacking,” said Booth. “They’d put four hands up and she found edges of block to go after, and defensively did a good job as well. I’m happy that everyone contributed to this win and that was great to see.”
MU was led by 22 kills from Barber, though she ended the match with consecutive atack errors and hit .362 Anna Haak had 13 kills and 11 digs and joined Lauren Speckman (31 assists, 11 digs) in the double-double club. The Golden Eagles had 54 kills, five aces, 65 digs and eight blocks on .222 hitting overall.
Creighton returns to the court on Saturday at 6 p.m. when it visits DePaul.