Creighton closes regular season with win
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Leah McNary had a career-high 23 kills on .458 hitting as No. 23 Creighton Volleyball won its 14th straight match, a 3-2 comeback thriller at Missouri State. Scores of the contest were 25-20, 17-25, 25-27, 25-18, 15-13.
Creighton (26-3, 17-1 MVC) won its second straight five-set thriller on the road, just 24 hours after a 3-2 win at Wichita State. In both contests, Creighton trailed 9-6 late before pulling off a remarkable comeback.
The first set of the match featured tremendous offense in the first set, as the teams combined for 30 kills and just 30 digs. Creighton took the lead for good on Melanie Jereb's serve, as a 6-0 run gave CU an 8-4 run and it would never look back in a 25-20 triumph. McNary had six kills in as many swings to pace the Bluejay offense, while Kelli Browning had four blocks at the net.
Creighton started well in the second set and led 12-9 before MSU called a timeout that turned around the match. The Bears promptly went on a 12-4 run despite the Jays blowing through two timeouts. CU did get within 21-17, only to see the Bears reel off the final four points on a kill, an ace and consecutive blocks. MSU outdug the Jays 22-14 in the second set.
Missouri State won the pivotal third set, spoiling a great Bluejay comeback. Creighton trailed 19-14 before consecutive aces from Lizzy Stivers helped get the Jays back to even at 22-all. Browning and Bober blocked MSU for a 24-23 lead to earn CU's first set point, only to have MSU's Olivia Brand tie the contest with a kill. Creighton earned another set point opportunity after Brand's attack found the middle of the net, but a disputed ball handling error on Megan Bober tied the score at 25-all. Bober was then stuffed at the net by Andrea Beaty, and MSU won its set point opportunity as another ball handling error was called on Bober. MSU had 26 digs and four blocks in the set.
Creighton faced an early 8-5 deficit in the third set, only to embark on a 5-0 run and take the lead for good. Ashley Jansen engineered a 4-0 run that built CU's lead to 16-11, and MSU got no closer than four points the rest of the way. Thorson had two straight kills to end the set.
Creighton trailed most of the fifth set, and were down 8-5 as the school's changed sides. The teams traded sideouts as MSU led 9-6 before CU started its comeback. Bober's solo block tied the score at 10-all, and the Jays took a 12-11 lead on an MSU attack error. McNary then had a kill to make it 13-12 in CU's favor, only to see Carly Thomas tie the score with a kill. With the score knotted at 13-all, Heather Thorson had a kill to get CU to match point, where Jereb took advantage of a busted play for the final winner.
McNary had 23 kills on .458 hitting in the best performance of her career. Browning had a double-double with 17 kills and 12 blocks for her fifth double-double of the season, while Jereb had 10 kills. Bober finished with 48 assists, six digs, five blocks and four kills, while Elman tallied a team-best 27 digs.
Creighton recorded 63 kills, four aces, 66 digs and 19 blocks while hitting .232.
MSU had 72 kills, four aces, 94 digs and 11 blocks on .193 hitting. Beaty had 16 kills and eight blocks, while McCartney had 15 kills and Brand added 14 kills. Ashley Mason had a match-best 29 digs while Shelby Strang had 13 digs on Senior Day.
Creighton will return to Springfield next week for the MVC Tournament. The event begins Thursday, though Creighton has earned the No. 1 seed and a quarterfinal bye and won't take the court until Friday evening, when it plays the Southern Illinois/Illinois State winner at 5 pm.
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