Jays win MVC volleyball tourney title
SPRINGFIELD, Mo - The No. 21 Creighton volleyball team continued its magical run in 2012 as the Jays claimed their first MVC Tournament Title with a 3-0 win over Wichita State on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Creighton defeated Wichita State (25-18, 25-20 and 25-23) to move to 28-3 on the season with its 16th straight win. Following the loss the Shockers fell to 22-9 overall.
The victory gives the Jays their first automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. It is the second time in Creighton history that the Bluejays have earned a trip to the NCAAs, following an at-large berth in 2010. Creighton also extended its school-record for wins to 28 and its school-record win streak to 16 in a row.
Tied 5-5 early in the opening set, Creighton grabbed control with a 4-0 run. A Wichita State service error got the Jays rolling, then sophomore Michelle Sicner and Heather Thorson posted Creighton's first block of the match two make it 7-5. Sophomore Kelli Browning followed with back-to-back kills in the middle to extend the lead to 9-5. Wichita State closed within a point at 17-16 drawing a timeout from Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. The Jays responded with three straight points on consecutive kills by freshman Melanie Jereb and a block by Jereb and Browning to go back out in front by four at 20-16. Creighton did not relinquish the lead the rest of the way as the Jays collected seven blocks in the set, holding the Shockers to a .054 hitting percentage.
"During the timeout, I reminded the team that we got ahead by being the aggressor," said Booth.
Wichita State came out strong to open the second set, claiming a 4-1 lead, but the Bluejays regrouped to score five of the next seven points and knot the set at 6-6. Tied 11-11 moments later, Creighton sprinted into the media timeout with four straight points. This time it was sophomore Leah McNary that got things started for the Jays with her sixth kill of the match. Jereb and Thorson teamed for Creighton's ninth block of the match to push it to 13-11. The cumulative effect of the Jays' block set in over the next two points as the Shockers made attacking errors trying to avoid the block. After the Shockers pulled even at 19-19, Creighton asserted its dominance once more. Creighton reclaimed the lead on a Shocker error, then senior Megan Bober delivered the Jays' first ace of the match to push it to 21-19. Following a service error by Bober, the Jays forced back-to-back attack error and closed the frame on an ace by sophomore Katie Neisler and a kill by Thorson.
With their backs to the wall, Wichita State charged out to a 7-2 lead to begin the third set to force a timeout by Booth. The Jays calmly began to chip away at the deficit behind a kill by McNary and an attack error by the Shockers. Unfortunately the Shockers were able to maintain separation of at least three points and finally extended their lead to as much as seven at 19-12. Down 21-15 just a few moments later, McNary ignited a 10-2 run that would result in a Bluejay celebration. The run began with eight straight Creighton points, lifting the Jays to their first lead of the set 23-22. McNary, Jereb, Browning and Sicner each contributed kills to go with two Bluejay blocks and two Shocker hitting errors during the run. After Wichita State's Ashlyn Driskill tied the set at 23-23, Jereb posted her 10th kill of the match to give Creighton a match point at 24-23. Fittingly senior Brooke Boggs, a Missouri native, ended the match in dramatic fashion with her first ace of the night.
McNary led the Jays with 11 kills and a stellar .416 hitting percentage on the night (11K, 1E, 30A). Jereb was right behind her with 10 kills. Wichita State got nine kills from Driskill.
Following the match, Bober was named the MVC Tournament MVP. She finished the match with 26 assists, 10 digs and eight kills to record her 22nd double-double. McNary and Jereb joined Bober as Creighton representative on the All-Tournament Team.
Creighton will now wait to see where the NCAA committee places the Bluejays. Creighton will be hosting a viewing party at 3 p.m. at The Old Mattress Factory, with the public and media invited to attend.
2012 MVC All-Tournament Team
Olivia Brand, Missouri State
Krista DeGeest, UNI
Chelsey Feekin, Wichita State
Elizabeth Field, Wichita State
Brooklyn Hlafka, Illinois State
Melanie Jereb, Creighton
Leah McNary, Creighton
Taylor Pippen, Southern Illinois
MVP Megan Bober, Creighton
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