MILWAUKEE, Wis. — The No. 13 Creighton Volleyball team picked up its eighth straight victory with a 3-2 win at No. 10 Marquette on Saturday night.
Scores of the match in favor of CU were 25-21, 25-23, 27-29, 29-31, 15-8.
Creighton (13-3, 6-0 BIG EAST) has now won 25 straight regular-season BIG EAST matches, and six straight contests against No. 10 Marquette (15-3, 5-1 BIG EAST).
Keeley Davis led Creighton with a career-high 31 kills, one shy of Michelle Prorock’s school record set in 1996. Also turning in career-high performances were Brittany Witt with 35 digs, Naomi Hickman with 11 blocks and Madelyn Cole with 63 assists to go with 14 digs. Erica Kostelac had a season-high 19 kills for CU as well. CU had 76 kills, 85 digs, 14 blocks, six aces and hit .274. The 14 blocks matched a season-high while the 76 kills were a season-best.
Marquette was led by 23 kills from Allie Barber. The Golden Eagles finished with 66 kills, five aces, 82 digs and 11 blocks on .217 hitting.
After just three blocks in Friday’s 3-0 win at DePaul, the Bluejay block was a key factor early. CU had seven rejections in the first set, including six from Hickman, to limit MU to .053 hitting. Davis and Kostelac each had four kills in the opener, with Megan Ballenger and Jaela Zimmerman adding three each.
“We met with Naomi yesterday and thought that her setup was good but discussed getting more blocks,” said Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “Naomi is type of kid that is going to do it. It was awesome that she went out and got it back tonight.”
The Bluejays doubled their lead to 2-0 before intermission with a 25-23 victory in set two. CU pushed its lead to 22-18 on an ace by Davis, and a kill by Kostelac on set point helped CU counter five kills from Barber.
The third set saw Creighton respond from a 15-10 hole to fight back and knot the score at 22-all. A 4-0 run on Kostelac’s serve got the Jays to match point with a 24-22 lead, but a service error trimmed the margin to 24-23. Davis then hit a ball down the line that was ruled out, but that was challenged by the Bluejay bench. After review, the down official signaled the point to Creighton as the Bluejay bench stormed the court in celebration of another top-10 victory. But several seconds later, the same official would change her signal to Marquette, giving the hosts the point, and the battle of BIG EAST behemoths continued. CU would also squander a match point chance at 26-25 before the Golden Eagles reeled off a 4-1 run to take the 29-27 set and force a fourth set.
“After thinking we won it in game 3, we had to get our composure back,” said Booth. “I thought we battled. Game 4 was a battle, and then we came out and played a clean game 5. At the time i was angry that the call didn’t go our way (in set 3) but that adversity is good for us and really demonstrated how resilient we are.”
After eight kills at the intermission, Davis had 10 kills alone in the third set, while Witt racked up 13 digs to keep plays alive. Cole had 19 of her 63 assists in the third set alone.
The fourth set featured 21 ties and nine lead changes before Marquette emerged with the 31-29 triumph to even the match and force a fifth set. Creighton was unable to convert on three match point chances, and ultimately had back-to-back net violations to end the frame in MU’s favor. Hickman had four more blocks in the fourth set, and Davis owned seven kills.
Creighton never trailed in the fifth set, racing to a 10-4 in a 15-8 clincher. Davis had six kills and Witt added six digs in the finale, as CU hit .545 with 12 kills in 22 errorless swings.
“I thought people stepped up at big moments. Keeley hit at a high clip and had ton of kills but everyone around her did the same. Witt is leading our back row. That’s her job as our libero and she’s a competitor, and we saw that again,” said Booth.
Creighton returns home on Friday to host third-place Butler in a 7 p.m. match at D.J. Sokol Arena.