LINCOLN, Neb. – Redshirt freshman Megan Ballenger had 13 kills on .579 hitting as Creighton Volleyball swept Gonzaga on Friday morning to begin play at the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Neb.
Creighton improved to 5-5 with the 25-21, 25-21, 25-16 victory. Gonzaga, which hadn’t trailed during a match all season, fell to 6-2 with the loss.
Ballenger did a little bit of everything in the first set for Creighton, finishing with six kills in six swings, and adding three digs, two aces, a block and an assist. After falling behind 4-1 early, CU fought back to tie the score at six and take its first lead at 10-9. CU steadily pulled away. Lauren Smith had consecutive blocks to make it 18-14, and Smith would later pound a kill on set point for the 25-21 victory. CU hit .244 in the first set as Lydia Dimke distributed 16 assists.
Creighton followed a similar pattern in set two, breaking free from a close set midway through. Ballenger continued her red-hot start with three kills in a 4-0 run to push the margin to 17-13. Gonzaga got within one at 18-17 and 21-20, but CU answered with a 3-0 run to get to set point and closed it out on a Smith kill. Ballenger had six more kills in the second set and CU hit .297 in the second frame.
The Bluejays fell behind 7-3 early in the third set but regrouped after a quick timeout from head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. Trailing 10-7, Jaali Winters served up a 6-0 run and CU would not trail again. The spurt included one ace and three kills by fellow sophomore Taryn Kloth. Marysa Wilkinson later supplied three kills in four points as CU’s lead ballooned to 18-14. An attack from Dimke closed out CU’s third sweep of the fall.
Creighton hit .336 in the early match, which started at 10 am in Lincoln. Dimke distributed 41 assists and added seven digs and five kills, making her one of six Bluejays with at least five kills. Ballenger’s 13 kills and .579 hitting led CU, but she also added a career-high three aces to her five digs, four assists and two blocks. Brittany Witt led all players with 11 digs, while Lincoln natives Smith and Wilkinson each added three blocks. Smith also had season-highs with her nine kills and .533 hitting.
CU dominated the statistical categories, leading 53-33 in kills, .336 – .208 in hitting percentage, 5-1 in aces, 45-37 in digs and 6-2 in blocks.
Gonzaga was led by McKayla Ferris, who was held to nine kills. Faith Smith led GU with 15 assists and eight digs.
LINCOLN, Neb. – Marysa Wilkinson hit .786 as the Creighton Volleyball team improved to 6-5 on the season with its second sweep of the day, a 3-0 triumph over Montana State.
Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-12, 25-14, 25-12. The Bobcats, coming off a 3-23 season a year ago, were the only team that wasn’t in the top-100 of last year’s RPI in CU’s rigorous non-conference schedule.
A Lincoln native, Wilkinson was on record pace with 12 kills in her first 13 swings before hitting it wide with CU leading 23-10 in the final set. She fell just short of the school record set by Lauren Smith (.857) in 2014 vs. Providence, but her effort was still good enough to rank second-best in program history.
Creighton improved to 6-5 on the season, climbing above the .500 mark. Montana State fell to 2-6.
Creighton never trailed in the first set, with Wilkinson carrying her team to victory. CU raced to a 6-1 lead early. The Bobcats did draw within four at 11-7, 12-8 and 13-9 before CU pulled away with a 5-1 run to move ahead 18-10. After a MSU sideout, the Jays continued their barrage with a set-ending 7-1 run that featured four kills from Wilkinson. Creighton hit .242 in the first set, including six kills in seven swings by Wilkinson, who also added three stuffs. MSU hit -.114 and had just four kills in 35 swings.
Creighton took a 2-0 lead into the intermission break after a 25-14 win in the second set. The Jays went on a 7-0 run on Brittany Witt‘s serve to build an 18-6 lead. A kill from Brittany Lawrence closed out the set, with CU hitting .406 in the 25-14 triumph.
Wilkinson added five kills in the final set, while Lawrence had three of her career-high four in the final frame as well. CU used a 10-0 run with Taryn Kloth at the service line to move ahead 14-3. The Jays hit .556 in the third set, and hit a season-best .391 overall.
Wilkinson’s 12 kills led CU, but Kloth (8), Smith (8), Megan Ballenger (6) and Jess Bird (5) also had five or more. Lydia Dimke dished 40 assists on the evening, while Witt had a match-high 17 digs. Wilkinson had a hand in eight blocks overall, establishing a career-high in the process. Creighton finished with 46 kills, three aces, 48 digs and 11 blocks.
Montana State had 18 kills, three aces, 32 digs and 4.0 blocks. The Bobcats hit -.021 for the match, finishing with 20 attack errors in 95 swings.
Creighton closes out play at the Ameritas Players Challenge on Saturday night when it takes on tournament host and defending national champion Nebraska at 8 pm. The Cornhuskers were 7-0 heading into Friday night’s match vs. Gonzaga. The Bluejay-Cornhusker match will be televised statewide on NET and be broadcast in Omaha on 1180 AM (KZOT).