QUEENS, N.Y. — No. 9 Creighton owned an 8-0 lead in aces and a 14-3 advantage in blocks to complete a 3-0 sweep at third-place St. John’s in a battle of 20-win teams on Friday night in Queens, N.Y.
Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-22, 25-12, 25-22.
Creighton won its 13th straight match to improve to 21-4 overall and 13-0 in BIG EAST play, clinching a spot in the BIG EAST Championship later this month (Nov. 23-24) in Omaha. St. John’s fell to 20-9 (9-5 BIG EAST) after being swept by CU for the second time this fall.
Reigning BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week Jaali Winters had a match-high 13 kills and added six digs, four blocks and three aces on .291 hitting to lead the Bluejays to victory. Madelyn Cole added 32 assists and three aces, and Kari Zumach contributed six blocks and seven kills on .385 attacking.
“We were fortunate in game one,” said Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “They outhit us significantly but our blocking and serving won that game. After that we contained their offense more, and I was pleased with orr blocking. Their outsides ate us up and we made adjustments, which was a great to see.”
St. John’s was led by nine kills by Kayley Wood, but Wood hit just .054 in 37 swings. Reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Efrosini Alexakou was limited to eight kills and .227 hitting. Preseason All-BIG EAST setter Erica Di Maulo, who ranked third nationally in assists entering the contest, had 26 assists. Red Storm libero Amanda Sanabia had 16 digs to become SJU’s all-time digs leader.
Creighton took 18-11 lead in the first set before fighting off a Red Storm rally. SJU got within 23-22 before a kill by Winters and a Red Storm attack error to end the frame. CU had four blocks and three aces in the first set while St. John’s had none of either category. Kari Zumach, Megan Ballenger, Taryn Kloth and Winters each had three kills to lead a balanced Bluejay attack in the opener.
Creighton cruised in the second set, hitting .545 with 13 kills in 22 swings.
The third set saw CU bolt to an 12-6 lead as St. John’s quickly burned both timeouts. The Red Storm would even the score at 19-all before a 6-3 Bluejay run to end the contest that was punctuated by kills from Zumach and Winters.
Creighton led all the statistical categories, including a 41-36 lead in kills, 37-35 in assists, 8-0 in aces, 43-42 in digs, 14-3 in blocks and .225 to .139 in hitting percentage.
Creighton plays its final road match of the regular-season on Saturday night with a trip to Seton Hall. First serve from South Orange, N.J., is set for 6 p.m. Central.