The Creighton volleyball team clinched its first Big East Tournament championship in school history with a 25-12, 17-25, 26-24, 25-12 victory over Seton Hall Saturday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The tournament title was also the first for Creighton in any sport since joining the Big East in the summer of 2013.
Sophomore outside hitter Jess Bird led the Jays with a match-high 18 kills.
Creighton (25-8) had five players with more than nine kills.
The Bluejays hit an impressive .552 in the first set and never trailed. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Smith and Bird each had five kills in the opening set. Creighton also went 12 of 13 on sideout.
Seton Hall was limited to only seven kills and .062 hitting. Four of the Pirates 12 points came from Jays’ service errors.
Bird continued her strong play in the second set with a kill to put Creighton ahead, but after two early ties and one lead change, the Pirates pulled away to even the match.
Seton Hall had 20 kills and hit .349 in the second frame.
Following the intermission, the Jays attempted to regain momentum, but found themselves behind 22-18. Creighton was determined to stop Seton Hall from taking the advantage and pulled within one behind a pair of kills and block assist from senior outside hitter Leah McNary. Freshman middle blocker Marysa Wilkinson ended the set with a pair of kills to give the Bluejays a one-set advantage.
The Jays hit .424 with 16 kills and only two errors in the clinching fourth set. Creighton won the final set on Seton Hall’s eighth attack error of the fourth frame and 29th of the night.
Creighton owned an 18-8 block advantage and limited the Pirates to a .113 hitting percentage.
Stacey Manthorpe paced Seton Hall with 18 kills.
Smith finished with 11 kills and 11 blocks for the Jays.
The Lincoln-native finished with 10 kills on 15 swings on Friday against Xavier and was named the Big East Tournament MVP for her two-day efforts.
McNary and Wilkinson joined Smith on the All-Tournament team.
Wilkinson led the Jays with 13 kills in their 26-28, 25-18, 25-18, 25-21 semifinal-win over the fourth-seeded Musketeers Friday.
Creighton led the majority of the first set of the semifinal, but Xavier battled back to gain an early lead.
The Jays responded by never trailing in the next three sets on their way to victory.
Bird and Smith each tallied 10 kills to guide Creighton to its second Big East Championship game in two years.
The crown gives the Bluejays an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
Creighton will learn its next opponent tomorrow night during the 2014 Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship selection show at 7:30 p.m. The show will air live nationally on ESPNU.