Creighton’s Women’s Volleyball won all three of its matches last weekend in the Bluegrass Battle, including a sweep of hosts and defending national champs No. 3 Kentucky.
The tournament sweep moved the Jays to a 6-0 record and merited them a No. 19 ranking in this week's AVCA Coaches Poll, their first appearance among the nation’s top 25 this season.
“We really challenged them to just go for it,” coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “We knew that Kentucky would push, but we just had to stay aggressive.”
Playing confident and with belief in each other, the Jays stuck to the aggressive game plan that throttled the Wildcats 3-0, matching Creighton’s highest ever ranked win.
“I have never been a part of anything like that,” senior defensive specialist Abby Bottomley said. “It was so cool to just be out there with my teammates and know they have my back no matter the opponent.”
Freshman outside hitter Norah Sis and senior outside hitter Jaela Zimmerman led the way for the Jays, each notching double-doubles in the historic win.
“I really credit Coach Booth and the coaching staff,” Zimmerman said. “They were dialed in from the beginning and brought so much energy and we just fed off their energy and believed in each other.”
The win was especially monumental for Booth, as the victory over the Wildcats was her 500th career win as a collegiate volleyball coach.
“To be honest, none of us knew about it until we saw a post online,” Bottomley said. “But once we found out we just started screaming and running to her. 500 wins is an amazing accomplishment and to get it in the biggest win in program history is really special.”
Even more impressively, the Bluejays were on short rest against Kentucky as they opened the tournament the afternoon before on Friday against USC, fending off a late comeback run by the Trojans in a thrilling five-set victory.
“We were playing a really good USC team,” Booth said. “They dominated sets three and four, so it would be really easy for a team to roll over, but I am proud of how we bounced back.”
Sis led the way again for the Jays with a season high 20 kills, while on the defensive side Bottomley added 17 digs.
Playing just four hours later, the Jays dominated again, this time against Northern Iowa, sweeping the Panthers to take the tournament title.
It was a 3-0 masterful performance, with Zimmerman (12 kills), Bottomley (11 digs), and freshman setter Kendra Wait (41 assists, 11 digs) leading the way.
The weekend’s performances clinched Zimmerman as the tournament MVP and the Big East Offensive Player of the Week. She was joined by Bottomley and Sis on the All-Tournament team.
Sis’ masterful weekend also merited her Big East Freshman of the Week honors.
The hot start for the Bluejays with only having dropped two sets through six games adds to the excitement of their matchup at the CHI Health Center facing the new No. 3 ranked team, Nebraska.
The Jays next host an invitational of their own at D.J. Sokol where they will battle Illinois today, SMU tomorrow morning, and cross town rivals UNO to close out the tournament.