OMAHA, Neb. — Creeighton Volleyball’s 2020 season came to an end on Wednesday in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament as the Bluejays fell in five sets to Morehead State in a battle of conference champions.
Scores of the match in favor of MSU were 22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 14-25, 15-13.
With the win, Morehead State (17-1) advances to Thursday’s 2:30 p.m. Second Round match-up vs. No. 8 national seed and sixth-ranked Florida (19-3). Creighton’s season ends with a 12-4 mark.
Creighton won a hard-fought first set that featured 10 ties and six lead changes. The Bluejays trailed 21-20 in the set before a kill from Jaela Zimmerman knotted the score and started a 5-1 run to end the frame. Keeley Davis and Naomi Hickman paired up to block Morehead State star Olivia Lohmeier as CU moved in front 22-21. Lohmeier’s next swing went wide to prompt MSU’s second timeout fo the set. CU moved to set point on a Welty kill and after a MSU sideout, won the first set 25-21 when Welty and Hickman stuffed Lohmeier. Reinhardt had four kills and two blocks in her NCAA Tournament debut to pace a Bluejay offense that hit .250. The Eagles hit .125 in the opener and were blocked four times by the Bluejays.
The Bluejays led most of the second set before Morehead State evened the match by sneaking out a 25-23 victory. Creighton looked in control after Keeley Davis had her sixth kill of the frame to put CU ahead 22-20, only to see the Eagles rally with a 5-1 run. CU led 23-22 before the Eagles got kills from McKenzee Wagener and Bridget Bessler to earn a set point chance, then converted that opportunity when CU’s attack went long. Creighton hit .441 in the second set, but MSU hit an impressive .400 as Abby Hulsman delivered six terminations.
Morehead State raced to an 8-4 lead in the opening points of the third frame and would not surrender the lead. The Bluejays used a 5-1 rally to claw within one at 11-10, only to see MSU respond with a 6-1 burst to move ahead 17-11. The Eagles lead reached as large as 20-12 and the Ohio Valley Conference champs fended off a late charge after CU drew within one at 24-23 before a kill from Hulsman closed out MSU’s victory to move ahead 2-1. Creighton hit .086 in the third set and had no answer for Hulsman, who added six additional kills.
The Bluejays never trailed in the fourth set, putting together consecutive points with regularity en route to building a 10-5 lead before a Morehead State timeout. The lead stretched to 19-11 before Jaime Gordon called timeout to regroup at again. Davis and Reinhardt carried the Bluejay offense in the fourth frame as CU hit .375 in the victory.
Ally Van Eekeren’s career-high fourth ace helped stake CU to a 4-2 lead early in the fourth set before Morehead State used a 5-1 run of its own to take an 8-6 lead at the midway point of the set. Back-to-back MSU attack errors after the timeout tied the match at 8-all. The match was deadlocked at 9-all before a crucial 3-0 spurt by the Eagles put Morehead State ahead 12-9. CU got within one at 13-12 and 14-13 before Lohmeier’s crosscourt winner on match point.
Zimmerman (18 kills, 10 digs) and Davis (15 kills, 17 digs) both registered double-doubles and freshman libero Ellie Bolton had a match-best 27 digs. Reinhardt had 13 kills on .722 hitting in her NCAA debut.
MSU was led by a career-high 17 kills from Hulsman and 16 more by Lohmeier.