OMAHA, Neb. — The No. 10 Creighton Volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Xavier on Thursday night, stretching its BIG EAST Conference home win streak to 32 straight matches.
The Musketeers took a 2-0 lead into intermission after wins of 25-23 and 25-21 before Creighton rallied to take the match with 25-17, 25-17 and 15-13 decisions to close it out. The match featured just two lead changes, both in the first set.
Creighton (17-4, 9-0 BIG EAST) won its ninth straight match and hung onto its one-game lead in the league standings over No. 18 Marquette with the victory. Xavier dropped to 6-15 and is 4-6 in BIG EAST action.
Jaali Winters led Creighton with 17 kills, while fellow Ankeny native Megan Ballenger added 15 kills. Taryn Kloth collected 11 kills and freshman Kari Zumach provided a season-best nine kills on .471 hitting to lead the offense. Brittany Witt, who led the Bluejays with 18 digs, also tied a Creighton record for aces in a five-set match with five. Creighton finished with 63 kills, 75 digs, eight blocks and hit .168. The Bluejays also had 10 aces against just five service errors.
Morgan Finn led Xavier with 15 kills, and reigning BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week Laura Grossman added 12 kills and 16 digs for the double-double. Nadia Dieudonne had a double-double with 24 assists and 13 digs, and Meredith Klare posted a match-best 29 digs. The Musketeers finished with 52 kills, seven aces, 80 digs and 15.0 blocks on .131 hitting.
Xavier had lost 24 straight sets against Creighton entering the match, but you never would have known it at the break. The Musketeers overcame an early 10-4 hole in the opening frame thanks to a 7-0 serving run by McKena Estes to take a 14-12 lead. Creighton tied the score at 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 before kills from Grossman and Finn paved the way for the Xavier win.
The Musketeers then rolled to a 10-1 lead to open the second set. Creighton would recover and tie the score at 19-all after an ace by Taryn Kloth, but the Musketeers closed out the set on a 6-2 spurt, including an ace by Ryan Shannon on set point.
Creighton never trailed in the final three sets to complete the comeback. Samantha Bohnethelped serve CU to a 6-1 lead in the third set that was aided by five straight Musketeer errors. Creighton led by as much as 21-9 before cruising to the 25-17 victory. Winters had five kills and Alexa Roumeliotis seven digs in the third inning.
Creighton used a 10-2 run in the fourth set to move ahead 18-9. XU closed within 19-15 before another 4-0 serving run by Bohnet that featured consecutive aces. Zumach had four kills in the fourth set and Madelyn Cole dished 13 assists.
The fifth set was tied for the only time at 5-5 before Witt went on a 4-0 run at the service line. CU’s 9-5 lead quickly dropped to 9-8, but a 5-1 run gave CU four match point chances. Xavier survived the first three times before Ballenger’s 15th kill closed out the victory. Creighton hit .321 in the final set, with six different individuals owning at least one kill.
Creighton hosts Butler on Saturday at 5 p.m. at D.J. Sokol Arena.