The Creighton women’s volleyball team continued its second-longest winning streak in program history and remained undefeated in conference play with a pair of victories against Providence and St. John’s over.
The Bluejays swept Providence before taking three-straight against St. John’s at D.J. Sokol Arena to improve to 11-0 in Big East play and expand their win streak to 12 games.
“We have six players on the court that are all really good and, as a setter, I can trust any hitter; and our defense has really stepped up, too,” senior setter Maggie Baumert said. “I just think we have a really solid team this year and we’re going to do something really special.”
In 2012, the Jays recorded a 17-match win streak which stands as the program record.
Creighton (17-7. 11-0 Big East) trailed only once during the three sets on Friday night against the Friars.
The Bluejays hit only .222 in the first set, but improved to .407 in the second set and .517 in the third.
Freshman outside hitter Jaali Winters led Creighton with 11 kills as the Jays totaled 44 kills compared to only 28 for Providence.
Senior Ashley Jansen and sophomore Kenzie Crawford led the offensive attack with 15 and 14 sets, respectively.
Baumert had a season-high nine blocks and tallied 33 assists in the Jays’ 25-20, 27-25, 25-19 win against St. John’s on Sunday.
Baumert’s breakout game did not come as a surprise to her coach.
“You see that because she’s a fifth-year,” coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “She’s just someone who has played a lot of volleyball. Even when she’s on the bench she’s watching.”
As a setter, Baumert leads the Bluejays with 512 assists, but Sunday marked the first time the Elkhorn, Nebraska native had such a significant contribution to the block.
“Her blocking has improved so much from this year to last year and I don’t think it’s stuff we’re doing in practice,” Booth said. “I think it’s the fact that she’s watched great blockers.”
As a team, Creighton recorded 14.5 blocks.
The Bluejays trailed 4-0 to open the first set, but behind the serving of junior outside hitter Jess Bird the Jays captured a 6-4 lead.
The Red Storm evened the set at six, but with senior libero Kate Elman serving, Creighton won seven-straight points to build a comfortable lead.
“This year, especially, coach has put a very big emphasis on serving; and serving consistency -- putting in aggressive balls, but on a consistent basis,” Elman said. “Serving had a really big part in coming back just because we were able to keep the ball behind the line.”
St. John’s pulled within one three different times late in the opening game, but the Bluejays’ block held off the late attack for a five-point victory.
“Every time we got out of the run by blocking the ball and I think that really helped our defense and our offense,” Baumert said.
Creighton trailed early in the second and even fell behind 20-16 before going on a 6-1 run to take the lead.
The Red Storm and Bluejays traded points as the second set drew to the close, but Winters delivered a kill to give the Jays a 27-25 win and a 2-0 advantage at the intermission.
Similar to the first two sets, St. John’s jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Creighton rallied for a 6-0 run to take the lead and never lost it.
Winters had five kills in the final set to contribute to her match-high 14.
Creighton returns to action Friday at Villanova to open a stretch of four road matches.
“Coach has really talked a lot about this year not being on a roller coaster,” Elman said. “And I think that if we can continue with our first to five and our aggressiveness, then I think that we’ll always have continued success.”
Booth emphasized that the team focuses on each individual match because of the importance each one has on potential postseason seeding.
“We just can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Booth said. “We talked about before the match today: ‘this is the most important match of the season.’ Everything is about a resume — a good win can help us, [and] a bad loss can hammer us.
“We have to be the mentally strong team that understands the ramification of each game and go out mentally and be strong each night.”
Creighton defeated the Wildcats 3-1 on Sept. 27, but Villanova has lost only one other conference match and sits in second place; two games behind the Bluejays for the top spot.
Although the Jays have a 12-match win streak and continue to dominate the Big East, Booth believes her team still has room for improvement.
“I am pleased with where we are,” Booth said. “I don’t think we have peaked of where we need to be to make a run -- not only in our conference tournament but in the NCAA tournament. We’ve got some lofty goals so we need to continue to get better; and I think this group will.”