BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Creighton Volleyball team picked up its first victory of its European tour on Sunday with a 3-2 victory over Békéscsabai RSE.
Creighton won the first three sets, but as has been the case during the last three matches of the trip, the teams played five sets. Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-14, 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 12-15.
Békéscsabai is a club team from near the Romanian border that is a five-time Hungarian champion, but was missing five players who will be flying to Peru on Monday with the Hungarian National Team to attempt to qualify for the Volleyball Nations League.
Playing inside Ritmikus Gimnasztika Csarnok for the first time, the Bluejays quickly acclimated to their surroundings. Brittany Witt served one of CU’s four aces in the opening frame to help CU take the lead for good at 7-6. A Naomi Hickman service winner stretched the lead to 15-10, and Taryn Kloth hammered a kill to end the first set.
Using the same starting line-up, Creighton fell behind in the second set by six points at 11-5, 12-6 and 14-8, before making a remarkable comeback. Kills by Hickman, Kloth and Megan Ballenger helped CU to a 21-20 lead. Freshman Annika Welty provided a solo stuff to push CU’s lead to 24-22, and two points later classmate Jaela Zimmerman’s kill ended the set.
CU switched up its line-up for the next two sets. Creighton closed out a 25-18 win in the third set on an ace by Jaali Winters, but was not as fortunate in the fourth set. CU trailed 16-14 before 14 straight sideouts put the Hungarian side just two points from victory, which would end up 25-21 in favor of the Europeans.
Creighton went with its youngest line-up yet in the fifth set, starting all four freshmen along with two juniors. Two kills from Zimmerman and another from Keeley Davis helped stake the Jays to a 3-0 lead, but it was short-lived. Békéscsabai took the lead for good with a 3-0 run to move ahead 9-6. CU saved three set points before a sideout ended the competition.
Davis led a Bluejay attack that hit .279 overall with nine kills in 15 attempts on Sunday, one more kill than Ballenger and Hickman for the team lead. Hickman added five blocks, and Samantha Bohnet accumulated 12 digs and four aces.
The teams then enjoyed dinner across the street at a tennis facility that is the primary training ground for Hungarian tennis superstar Timea Babos.
Sunday marked Creighton’s final day in Budapest. The team will bus to Vienna, Austria on Monday, where it will spend just a few hours before completing the driving to the Czech Republic. Creighton will spend the rest of its trip in Prague, playing its final match on Wednesday, before returning to the United States on Thursday.
For more information on the team’s adventures in Europe, search the hashtag #JaysGoEuro or visit http://gocreighton.com/JaysGoEuro.