When she arrived at Creighton, she transitioned a team from a 3-23 season to 12-18 in her first year. Now – entering her 18th season with the program – head women’s volleyball coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth has seen recognizable prog- ress in her squads each year.
This progress and improvement is a focus year after year, game after game.
“We’re very process oriented with everything we do,” Booth said. “The big thing we try to do in the fall is that we’re working to peak in November, every match that we step on the court we want to be getting better to get to the point that we’re playing our best at the end of the year.”
The Bluejays finished as Big East regular season and tournament champions last season before falling to Washington in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Now they’re looking towards the 2019 season eager to progress and make it further. The journey starts this spring.
“Even though we’ve been win- ning, spring season isn’t about win- ning at all. It’s really about getting better,” Booth said. “What I’ve liked about this group is they come to practice and work hard everyday and I think they’re really locked into getting better.”
Thus far Booth is impressed with the consistency and appreciates seeing her girls catch on to skills worked on both individually and as a group in every practice and game.
“We talk a lot about process during the spring and every play- er has things they’re working on,” Booth said. “It’s been fun to see each of them take ownership in those things and in those moments when the lightbulb goes off it’s pretty awesome.”
The Bluejays graduate two All-American outsides this year, with Taryn Kloth playing sand volleyball as a graduate student at LSU and Jaali Winters signing on to play professionally with CV Haris, a club based out of the Canary Islands.
With these changes they’ll look to new recruits, transfers and other players to take on these essential roles.
Recruiting these new players has become more central and essential to their team since Booth joined the program, she said.
She says she owes this improvement to the overall performance of the team, appeal of the transition into the Big East and most recently the draw of the new facilities.
This year Creighton added the Ruth Scott Training Center, a practice facility for women’s athletics which Booth sees as another tool for recruitment but also as a benefit for the players.
“The functional day to day stuff is huge that we have three gyms for three programs. This gym has just given us so much more flexibility from a training standpoint. Players can go in on their own,” Booth said. “And if we can get people to come to campus, I think they see what incredible facilities we have.”
While Booth and her staff don’t work with the team in the summer, the girls can utilize this facility in their open gyms and practices before gearing up for the fall starting in August.
“Each year you approach it and try to figure out how to hopefully make each team the best they can be; it’s a puzzle each year – and if you’re a coach you love to put the puzzle together,” Booth said.
Before the summer offseason, the team finishes their spring season this Saturday at Missouri. The Bluejays finished last season at 29-5 and are undefeated in the spring season.
Going into her 18th season with Creighton, Booth is hoping for yet another Big East champi- onship and NCAA Tournament appearance.