The 2,331 fans at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn., were in awe as the Jays built a 16-8 lead in set number three, but the hometown team didn’t disappoint, pulling off an 8-1 run to cut the Jays lead to a single point, 17-16. The No. 8 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers gained their first lead of the frame, 21-20. Minnesota finished off the Jays with an emotional 25-23 win to take a 2-1 set lead.
The Jays looked in control after their 7-0 run behind the serving of sophomore outside hitter Katie Neisler, but the Gophers counter attack took all the life out of the Jays.
“[The Jays run] is probably what hurts the most,” head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said.
Minnesota dominated the final set 25-17 to move the Gophers into the third round of the NCAA tournament.
The Gophers defeated the Jays 20-25, 25-17, 25-23 and 25-17 to end the Jays season in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
The No. 21 Jays finished the season with a program best 29 wins to only four losses.
The Jays looked destined to make it past the Gophers and advance to the Sweet 16 in West Lafayette, with a hard fought 25-20 win in the first set.
“I don’t think anyone in the country thought we were going to win, but we did,” Booth said.
The opening set had 11 ties and six lead changes. Until the Jays’ 21-18 advantage, neither team held a lead larger than two.
Creighton hit .423 with 14 kills to go along with five blocks.
“We knew we had to come out and be the aggressor and put pressure on them and that is what we did in the first set,” senior setter Megan Bober said. “That was our game plan from the start.”
Bober ended the night with 35 assists, 11 kills and eight digs.
Minnesota made a statement in the second set, opening with a 7-0 lead.
The Jays pulled within two, 13-11, but the Gophers maintained their lead the entire way, taking the second set 25-17 to even the match.
“Our expectation was to win and so as competitors we are obviously disappointed,” Booth said.
On Friday, the Jays defeated the Marquette Golden Eagles 25-22, 25-23, 28-26.
Sophomore outside hitter Leah McNary earned kills to end each set during the match.
“It’s a moment I look for, I like being put under pressure,” McNary said, “I know it’s really crucial for me to put the ball down at that point.”
The Jays and Golden Eagles tied five times in the first set, before freshman libero Kate Elman’s two ace serves helped lead the Jays on a 5-0 run to take an 11-7 lead.
Marquette never got closer than two the rest of the opening set.
Sophomore middle blocker Kelli Browning led the Jays with five kills in the opening frame, hitting a perfect 1.000. The Jays hit .412 with 16 kills in the first set.
The second set was a see-saw battle. The set had 14 ties and seven lead changes.
Browning continued her perfect performance with her ninth kill on her ninth swing to give the Jays a 20-19 lead.
Browning ended the night with nine kills on 16 attacks, failing to convert in her final seven attempts.
McNary had two straight kills to put the Jays to set point, but Marquette fought off one point before McNary ended the set with her 10th kill of the match.
McNary led the Jays with 14 kills, including the three set winners.
The Jays trailed 9-5 in the early stages of the third set, but the Jays went on a 5-0 run to take a one-point lead.
After Marquette took a 21-20 lead, the two squads traded the next 14 sideouts to a 26-26 tie. The Jays fought off three set points during the span.
Sophomore right side hitter Michelle Sicner put down her seventh kill of the match to give the Jays their first match point situation.
McNary ended her decorated night with her third set-ending kill of the match.
The win extended the Jays winning streak to 17 games and put the Jays into the Saturday night match against the host Golden Gophers.
The four-set loss on Saturday night ended the Jays’ best season in program history.
“This has been a special year for Creighton,” Booth said, “This group is an amazing group of young women from where we were on and off the court last year to where we are now. The selflessness of this group has really been special.”