Creighton ties school record

Megan Bober

OMAHA, Neb. -- The Creighton Volleyball team tied a school-record with its eighth straight victory, avenging its lone prior league loss in a 3-1 win over Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon. Scores of the contest in favor of CU were 25-27, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18.

Creighton improved to 20-3 on the year and temporarily moved into a tie for first place of the MVC with an 11-1 league mark (UNI plays at Missouri State tonight). The victory was Creighton's ninth straight home win, setting a program record, and gives the Jays its fourth 20-win season in its modern history. It also marked CU's first unbeaten October (7-0), and moved CU over the .500 mark in its modern history for the first time since winning its first match in 1994.

The match also saw two-time all-Valley setter Megan Bober make some Creighton history when she became the fourth player in school history to surpass 1,000 or more digs and assists. Bober approached a rare triple-double, finishing with 38 assists, 10 digs, nine blocks and seven kills.

Kelli Browning and Leah McNary both had 14 kills to lead Creighton, while SIU was paced by Alysia Mayes' 17 kills.

Southern Illinois (18-6, 8-5 MVC) stormed out of the gates with a strong start, moving ahead 6-1 in the first set after three straight CU attack errors prompted an early Bluejay timeout. Creighton rallied to tie it at 11, only to surrender another 5-0 Saluki run. The match tightened when Creighton tied the score at 21, 22 and 23, and the Jays had a set point when leading 24-23. But SIU survived that point, then won the frame a short time later on back-to-back kills from Laura Thole to win, 27-25. Thole had five kills in the set, while Amy Drabant dished 17 assists for the Salukis. CU was paced by four kills and three blocks by Browning.

Southern Illinois started quickly in the second set as well, moving ahead 11-8. The Jays then embarked on a 7-1 run to move ahead 15-12 and never looked back, winning the set 25-21. McNary had six kills while Browning added five more as CU hit .310 for the set.

Creighton's vaunted block, ranked third nationally, was dominant in the final two sets. Browning had two kills and two block assists as CU moved ahead 5-2. The Salukis rallied, siding out nine straight times to own an 18-15 lead before the block returned. CU earned five more blocks and would close the set with a 10-5 run, breaking free from a 23-all deadlock on a kill by McNary and an errant set by Drabant.

A kill from Bober and blocks by Michelle Sicner and Heather Thorson helped CU to a quick start in the fourth set, which the Jays won 25-18 while never trailing. Thorson had four blocks in the fourth set as part of a defensive effort that held SIU to -.026 hitting.

Creighton finished the afternoon with 19 blocks, two shy of a school-record, and had three players with eight or more. Thorson and Bober both had nine stuffs, while Browning finished eight as part of a huge day. The sophomore middle blocker from Waukesha, Wis., also set a CU record for attack percentage in a four-set match by hitting .684.

Freshman libero Kate Elman had 18 digs, while classmate Melanie Jereb added 15 digs. For the day, Creighton had 50 kills, four aces, 66 digs and 19 blocks on .242 hitting. It helped offset a rare off-day at the service line, where CU made a season-high 15 miscues.

In addition to 17 kills from Mayes, Thole had 15, Jessica Whitehead had 14 and Taylor Pippen added 10 putaways. Bailey Yeager recorded a match-best 30 digs, while Drabant dished 51 assists to improve her league lead in assists per set. The Salukis had 57 kills, one ace, 78 digs and six blocks on .137 hitting.

Creighton returns to action next Friday with a 7 pm match at Bradley.


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