Fresh off of a historic non-conference finish, the Creighton volleyball team carried that momentum into Big East play, defeating both Butler and Xavier to push their record to 14-1.
The No. 16 Jays opened their quest for an eighth straight conference title on the road, winning at Butler 3-1 last Friday in a hard fought match.
Although they fell behind early in the first set, Creighton rallied behind senior outside hitter Jaela Zimmerman’s four kills and senior defensive specialist Abby Bottomley’s two aces to take the set 25-16.
The Jays then won a close second set 25- 22, bolstered by strong performances again from Bottomley, Zimmerman, and freshman setter Kendra Wait.
However, on the verge of being swept, the Bulldogs countered with a 25-23 victory in a close third set.
“I think we let up a bit in the third game,” Bottomley said. “What we have to realize is every single team plays their best against us, and we have to be focused on every point.”
Creighton rebounded well to take the fourth set 25-19 for their first conference victory of the season.
“[Butler] dug us real well because we went up and swung aggressively, but they played great defense behind it,” coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “Obviously, we are pleased to get our first Big East win, but we have to learn from it and be cleaner.”
Taking their coach’s words to heart, the Jays indeed came out much cleaner the next day after traveling from Indianapolis to Cincinnati in an impressive 3-0 sweep of Xavier.
Creighton dominated the first set 25-11, but found themselves trailing in the second set 20-16.
Backed by sophomore outside hitter Megan Skovsende’s 5-0 serving run, the Jays went on a 9-2 run to take the set.
The third set saw much of the same domination as the first, with the Jays taking a 9-2 lead early and never looking back, completing the sweep of the Musketeers.
“I thought in game one we played a fantastic game,” Booth said. “Then in game two, Xavier started to play better and we made some back-to-back errors. In game three, our serve really disrupted them and it was good to take control.”
Zimmerman led the way with 14 kills while Wait added 30 assists in the victory. Bottomley also added 23 digs with junior middle blocker Kiana Schmitt registering six blocks.
“Overall I thought we played a really clean game,” Bottomley said. “Our offense was powerful and our defense was scrappy.”
Bottomley’s defense may not have been so scrappy, as her efforts on the weekend merited her Big East Defensive Player of the Week.
Wait earned Big East Freshman of the Week with her performances against Butler and Xavier.
The team, who remains at the No. 16 spot in the weekly AVCA Coaches Poll, will continue their conference slate with home matches against DePaul and Marquette this weekend.