When 6-foot-2-inch fifth-year senior Maggie Baumert stands next to 5-foot-9 inch sophomore Kenzie Crawford, it’s hard to see the two volleyball players having a lot in common. However, the two share a position, a friendship and a drive to help the Bluejays succeed.
Baumert and Crawford have been splitting playing time at setter in 2015, often giving coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth flexibility, their Bluejay teammates fresh legs and opponents a headache to prepare for.
“Usually you have one setter throughout a season, so this is a pretty atypical situation,” Booth said. “Out of anything that I’ve probably been most proud of from those two is the way they support each other.”
Creighton improved to 4-0 in the Big East over the weekend. A matchup with a tough St. John’s team saw Baumert record a season-high 55 assists as the team went on to win 3-1. The next day, 32 assists and eight digs from Crawford helped the Bluejays sweep Providence.
A career-high in kills for freshman outside hitter Jaali Winters and sophomore outside hitter Marysa Wilkinson contributed to the Bluejays’ big weekend. Winters had 28 kills against St. John’s and Wilkinson had 14 against Providence.
A graduate of Elkhorn High School, Baumert returned home for her junior season in 2014. She led Creighton in assists and finished fourth in the Big East with 9.85 assists per set.
The first three years of Baumert’s collegiate volleyball career were spent at Georgia. She redshirted her freshman year before making appearances in all 30 matches in 2012.
The Bulldogs made a trip to the NCAA tournament during Baumert’s sophomore season in 2013. Baumert finished the season with 552 assists.
She transferred to Creighton in the spring of 2014.
“It’s been everything that I’ve dreamed of,” Baumert said. “It was definitely a big change coming from a big state school, but I love it here.”
Crawford, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, redshirted in 2013 before playing in her first match for the Bluejays in 2014. She played in 17 matches, often spending time as a defensive specialist.
“Kenzie is known for her defense and speed,” Booth said. “Maggie is a bigger blocker, although I think Kenzie is a good blocker as well.”
At Northview High School, Crawford was honored as the Detroit Free Press Senior Athlete of the Year.
In their second season together with the Bluejays, Baumert and Crawford’s skills and chemistry are helping the team in its quest for another Big East Championship.
“Kenzie and I are really close off the court as well,” Baumert said. “That really helps us. Obviously if one of us isn’t playing we’re going to support the other one that is playing.”
Crawford echoed Baumert’s statement.
“When Maggie’s on the bench, she’s my No. 1 fan,” Crawford said. “When I’m on the bench, I’m her No. 1 fan.”
The dual-setter situation has given opposing teams fits through the first half of the season. While having two excellent setters has presented a different look for the Jays as well, the team makes the transitions between Crawford and Baumert appear seamless.
“We work a lot on setting similar balls so that our hitters know what type of ball is coming,” Baumert said. “During setter training we make sure that our balls are the same so that whoever is on the court our hitters can hit the same ball.”
So far this season, Crawford has amassed 379 assists; Baumert isn’t far behind with 300 assists. Baumert’s 10.00 per set barely edges Crawford’s 9.72 assists.
Known for her defense, Crawford has recorded 96 digs this season.
Baumert’s five-inch height advantage has come into play near the net, where she has recorded 30 blocks on the year.
The setter position isn’t the only position where the Bluejays are loaded, however. Although Winters has led the way statistically with 246 kills this season, Creighton has a number of other players that Baumert and Crawford can lean on as offensive weapons.
Junior middle blocker Lauren Smith, junior outside hitter Jess Bird and Wilkinson are all averaging between 2.26 and 2.73 kills per set and each have more than 140 kills. Taryn Kloth, a freshman outside hitter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota is producing 1.42 kills per set.
On top of their skills on the court, both Crawford and Baumert are lauded for their leadership skills.
“The thing with both Maggie and Kenzie is that I can’t speak enough of how great of people both of them are,” Booth said. “They’re both great leaders. Maggie has more experience than Kenzie, but both are phenomenal leaders.”
Baumert and Crawford will look to lead the Bluejays to another perfect weekend in the Big East Conference. The team will welcome the DePaul Blue Demons and the Marquette Golden Eagles to D.J. Sokol Arena.
The Blue Demons have gone 1-4 through conference play despite an 11-1 record in the nonconference schedule.
The match against the Blue Demons will be the annual Pink Out, which is held to promote cancer awareness.
The Golden Eagles are 11-6 on the season with a 3-2 record in the Big East Conference.
The Bluejays will take on the Blue Demons on Friday at 7 p.m. before meeting the Golden Eagles on Sunday at 1 p.m.