There are many things that you can take away from Creighton Volleyball’s loss to 7th ranked Nebraska last week. You could focus on Taryn Kloth’s 26 kills with a .400 hitting percentage. You could focus on Nebraska’s comeback after the Jays won the first two sets. But, the one take-a-way that I had was how far coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth has brought this program.
When Booth started as head coach for Creighton in 2003, the volleyball team was playing in a high school gym. When Booth and the Jays hosted Nebraska last week, it was in front of a NCAA-record crowd of 14,022 fans. According to Creighton Athletics, in the 6 years prior to Booth taking the head coaching job, Creighton had a total of 12,124 home fans in 64 matches. In one game, the Jays had more fans than they did throughout an entire six-year period.
Coach Booth's impact goes beyond getting fans to the game. You can see it in the new women’s practice facility currently being built. You can see it when Creighton players are being selected to represent the United States in international tournaments. You can see it in her three national coach of the year awards.
Booth has built this program into what it is today. The Jays have appeared in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Top 25 in each of the past six years. They’ve been to the NCAA Tournament in seven of the past eight years, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2016.
Fifteen, or even 10 years ago, no one in the state of Nebraska would have ever imagined that Creighton could take Nebraska to five sets. But now, with Booth at the helm, Creighton and Nebraska could turn into a competitive rivalry.