SEATTLE, Wash. — Marysa Wilkinson had 13 kills on .571 hitting as the ninth-ranked Creighton volleyball team opened its 2017 season with 3-0 victory over Saint Mary’s at the Husky Invitational in Seattle, Wash., on Friday afternoon.
Scores of the match in favor of Creighton were 25-14, 25-23, 25-20. It was Creighton’s first sweep in a season-opening match since defeating Texas Tech in 2009.
Creighton won the first set 25-14, overcoming an early 9-7 deficit in the process. Taryn Kloth served a 5-0 run to give the Bluejays an insurmountable lead, and Brittany Witt closed out the frame with a 5-0 run of her own. The Bluejays hit .257 in the first set while forcing the Gaels into .000 hitting on 43 swings. CU had 4.5 blocks in the opening set, including three by Wilkinson.
“I always tell the players that the first set you can roll it, or you can get rolled and it really means nothing, and I think you saw that tonight,” said Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “We came out and dominated that set, and then Saint Mary’s and got their rhythm and almost won set two….With that said, first game under our belt, to sweep, that’s a great thing.”
The Bluejays were pushed in the second set but rallied to secure a 25-23 victory to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Down 23-22 late, the Bluejays got a kill from true freshman Naomi Hickman to tie it, then putaways by Kloth and Hickman to close out the set. CU had 22 kills in the second set on .381 hitting. Bluejay standout Jaali Winters became the 12th player in Creighton history to reach 1,000 career kills with a tip to make it 20-20 in the second set.
Creighton hit .410 in the third set to roll to the victory. The Bluejays took a 4-1 lead thanks to strong serving from Megan Ballenger and the Gaels would not get closer than two the rest of the contest.
Wilkinson led Creighton with 13 kills on .571 hitting, adding a match-high five blocks. Ankeny products Winters and Ballenger both provided 10 kills, while Kloth had nine kills. Brittany Wittpaced CU’s defense with 11 digs. The Bluejays had 53 kills, four aces, 53 digs and 8.5 blocks on .353 hitting.
Saint Mary’s hit .172 for the afternoon, led by 11 kills by Sarah Chase. The Gaels finished with 35 kills, 46 digs, two aces and five blocks overall.
Creighton plays a pair of NCAA Tournament teams on Saturday, meeting Pitt at Noon CST before taking on third-ranked tournament host, Washington at 9 pm.