OMAHA, Neb. — Megan Ballenger served up six of Creighton’s season-high 12 aces in a 3-1 win over DePaul that moved the Blueays into sole possession of first place in the BIG EAST Conference.
Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-15, 29-31, 25-21, 25-17.
Creighton (8-6, 2-0 BIG EAST) and DePaul (7-7, 1-1 BIG EAST) entered the day as the lone unbeaten teams in BIG EAST play after a wild opening weekend featuring several upsets. The Bluejays, riding the momentum of a 3-0 sweep over Marquette on Friday, did enough to win their seventh straight meeting over DePaul.
Creighton middle blockers Marysa Wilkinson (14 kills, six blocks, .545%) and Lauren Smith (13 kills, four blocks .524%) helped the Bluejays maintain a dominance in the middle, while Jaali Winters added 11 kills. Lydia Dimke dished 40 assists and had seven kills while setting her offense to .291 hitting. Creighton finished with 58 kills, 12 aces, 50 digs and 10 blocks.
DePaul was led by 14 kills from Myah Reed, while Brittany Maxwell added 12 kills and five blocks. The Blue Demons finished with 47 kills, 10 aces, 41 digs and seven blocks on .191 hitting.
Creighton hit .417 in the first set to cruise to a 25-15 win. Amanda Foje served up an early 7-0 run to help CU take an 8-2 lead, including the first Bluejay ace of the afternoon. Ballenger later served up her first two aces during a 4-0 spurt that pushed the lead to 15-10. Jess Bird finished off the set with a kill on her first swing
Wilkinson went to work in the second set with eight kills on 10 swings, but it was DePaul winning the marathon set. Creighton trailed 20-18 late before rebounding to own set point chances at 24-23, 25-24, 26-25 and 27-26. CU could not convert any of those, and DePaul finally won the set on its third chance at 31-29. Colleen Smith dished 14 assists for DePaul in the second set to hep the Blue Demons hit .279.
Creighton regained control of the match with a 25-21 win in the third set. Dimke had nine assists, three kills, a dig, a block and an ace in the frame. Wilkinson put down a kill to end the third frame and give CU a 2-1 lead.
DePaul soared to a 6-3 lead in the fourth set before Ballenger embarked on a 13-0 serving run that featured three aces. The run outlasted a pair of DePaul timeouts and included seven Bluejay kills, two aces and three DePaul errors. When it was all said and done, Creighton owned a 16-6 lead and had firm control. DePaul got no closer than seven (23-16) the rest of the way, as a kill from Smith ended the day. Smith had five kills in five swings during the last set while adding a pair of blocks.
Creighton hits the road next weekend for a pair of matches, playing at Xavier on Friday and at Butler on Saturday.