Creighton rallies for conference title
WICHITA, Kan. -- The Creighton Volleyball team rallied from an 0-2 deficit, then survived a match point in the fifth set, to clinch its first MVC outright title on Friday night before 2,725 fans at Wichita State.
Wichita State won the first two sets 25-22, 25-15 before Creighton won the next three, 25-16, 25-20, 16-14.
Creighton has now won 13 consecutive contests to improve to 25-3 on the season, improving to 16-1 in league play. Wichita State fell to 19-8 overall and is 12-5 in MVC play.
Wichita State never trailed while winning the first set, 25-22. The Shockers took advantage of some uncharacteristic errors from the Bluejays to build a lead as large as 13-7. CU would close within 21-20, but one of five service errors in the set squelched that momentum and helped the Shockers close on a 4-2 run to end the frame. Kate Elman had 10 digs and Megan Bober 15 assists, but it wasn't enough to counter a balanced attack that included seven digs, four kills and four assists by Shocker setter Chelsey Feekin, a Papillion native.
The Shockers extended their lead in the second, once again building a 13-7 lead and keeping the Jays comeback hopes at bay. WSU hit .433 in the second set, led by four kills in five swings from both Ashley Andrade and Elizabeth Field, while also outblocking CU 3-0.
Two areas that plagued Creighton in the first two sets turned into strengths in the third set, blocking and serving. Creighton had three blocks in a five-point span to build a 7-3 lead and cruised to a 25-16 win. Creighton outblocked the Shockers 7-0, including four stuffs from Kelli Browning, while forcing the Shockers into 11 attack errors. Creighton also served up three aces, one each by Melanie Jereb, Bober and Elman.
The fourth set was by far the most competitive of the match. Creighton stormed to leads of 6-3 and 10-6, only to see WSU answer with a 5-1 spurt to even the score at 11-all. The Jays answered the bell out of a timeout with four straight points, including consecutive blocks by Browning and Bober, and would not trail again. Creighton won the set 25-20 on a block by Leah McNary and Browning. Creighton hit .173 in the fourth set while holding WSU to .070 hitting.
The fifth set featured another comeback for the ages. Creighton fell behind 5-2 and trailed 10-6 before calling its final timeout. The Jays drew within 11-10 on a kill from Bober before WSU took the next two points to lead 13-10. Creighton answered with one kill from Jereb and two more by Bober to knot the score at 13-all, forcing WSU's final timeout. The Shockers won a long rally with a block to earn a match point opportunity, but Creighton then won three straight points to take the title. Bober and Browning teamed up to fend off match point at 14-all. A kill from McNary got the Jays in position for the win, which Bober then sealed with her 14th kill of the evening and fifth of the set.
Bober led Creighton with 42 assists, 14 kills, 11 digs and seven blocks to turn in her 15th career triple-double and sixth of her senior season. McNary added 11 kills, while Jereb, Thorson and Browning each added 10 kills. Browning also added 10 stuffs for the double-double. Creighton had 59 kills, five aces, 93 digs and 16 blocks while hitting .184.
WSU was led by Feekin's 41 assists, 30 digs and seven kills on .636 hitting. Andrade had 13 kills, while Field and Emily Adney both had 10 kills. WSU finished wiht 62 kills, three aces, 112 digs and eight blocks while hitting .168.
Creighton will play its final regular-season game of the season on Saturday at 7 pm when it visits Missouri State.
NOTES: Creighton now owns three wins under Kirsten Bernthal Booth against Wichita State in which it has survived match point. The Jays have six such wins under Booth overall ... Creighton is now 7-171 when trailing a match 0-2. This was its first such comeback since Sept. 21, 2007 (at Northern Iowa).
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