OMAHA, Neb. — Runs late in each set helped No. 15 Creighton Volleyball defeat a feisty Nebraska-Omaha team in straight sets during the season-opener for both teams on Friday, Jan. 22nd. Scores in favor of host CU were 25-19, 25-19, 25-22.
In a contest that featured 32 ties and 14 lead changes, the difference in the match was the play of the Bluejays in winning time as Creighton (1-0) closed the first set on a 7-1 run, the second set on a 8-2 surge and the third set on a 6-3 rush.
Freshman Kiara Reinhardt and All-BIG EAST outside hitters Keeley Davis and Jaela Zimmerman each had four kills in the opening set as Creighton eliminated some early hitting errors to pull away down the stretch. Ally Van Eekeren had nine assists and Mahina Pua’a four as the duo split time all night long in place of graduated setter Madelyn Cole.
Creighton minimized its errors in the second set, hitting .310, as six different Bluejays had at least one kill. Reinhardt had two aces in the second set as the Bluejay service game disrupted the Mavericks, which contributed to UNO’s .111 hitting.
CU raced to a 9-4 lead to start the third set, only to see the visitors rally to even the score at 16-all. CU’s block came up big at end-game, with Zimmerman contributing three blocks and Naomi Hickman two rejections during the match-finishing flurry.
Zimmerman led Creighton with 11 kills and was one of three Bluejays with 12 digs for her ninth career double-double. Kostelac and Hickman each had six blocks, and Kostelac also uncorked three straight aces in the third set. Van Eekeren had 17 assists and four kills, while Pua’a tallied 15 assists in her Bluejay debut. Creighton finished with 41 kills, six aces, 52 digs and 10 blocks on .198 hitting.
Nebraska-Omaha freshman McKenna Ruch had a team-high 13 kills and added 12 digs in her collegiate debut, while Claire Mountjoy added a match-high 19 digs. The Mavericks hit .096 and had 29 kills, four aces, 56 digs and four blocks.
Creighton hosts Northern Iowa on Sunday at 2 p.m.