The Creighton volleyball team picked up a pair of victories against Big East opponents Xavier and Butler this past weekend at D.J. Sokol Arena. After sweeping Xavier in three sets on Friday evening, the Bluejays clinched their third conference regular season title in four years.
Creighton extended its home winning streak to ten matches and improved to 22-8 overall and 16-1 in Big East Conference play.
“What a culmination of what we’ve been working for to get one of our goals marked off the list; to win on our home court against a very good team,” coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “I thought to win it decisively was really fun and everyone getting an opportunity to play is awesome.”
In Friday night’s match against Xavier, junior outside hitter Jess Bird led the way with 14 kills and two blocks and freshman outside hitter Jaali Winters added 12 kills and 13 digs to help propel the Bluejays to their back-to-back Big East titles.
Creighton hit a match-high .625 in the third set despite hitting .195 and .162 in first two.
“I thought, offensively, it wasn’t all that pretty, but I thought we scrambled really well,” Booth said. “At halftime we said ‘we are playing really good on the ugly plays,’ meaning it’s a scrappy play and we are making good out-of-system swings. We got some good block touches but I didn’t think our offense was really crisp in the first two sets.”
On Sunday the Bluejays honored their five seniors: defensive specialist Ashley Jansen, outside hitters Melanie Jereb and Lizzy Stivers, setter Maggie Baumert and libero Kate Elman following the 3-0 sweep of Butler (11-18, 7-9 Big East).
This senior class has accumulated a 99-30 record over the past four seasons. They have posted four 20-win seasons and been a part of the program’s first three regular season conference titles in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The five seniors who joined forces for the most wins in Creighton volleyball history, won two conference tournament titles, (2012, 2014), and clinched three NCAA Tournament births.
“Our seniors are a phenomenal class and each one brings something different to the table,” junior Jess Bird said. “They have set such a great example in practice, in the offseason and in everything. They are winners because they push through everything in practice.”
Booth believes that the class can be defined by more than its achievements.
“I think I lock into them as people more than their accomplishments. Each group that we’ve brought into the program over the last 13 years have taken it to that next step and I think this class has definitely taken us to that next step,” Booth said. “I will remember the selflessness of this class — just that they really role-modeled team before self.”
The starting lineup for the Bluejays on Senior Day featured all five seniors. They combined for 10 kills, 34 assists and seven aces as well as 52 digs.
The Bluejays will be back in action in the final regular season conference match on Friday at Georgetown.
Creighton and its five seniors are not finished playing at D.J. Sokol Arena this year. The Bluejays host the conference tournament on Nov. 27 and 28. The Jays are the No. 1 seed and will welcome Villanova, Marquette and Xavier.