CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The No. 23 Creighton Volleyball team defeated No. 15 USC in four sets to win the UNI Tournament on Saturday.
Creighton (3-2), which defeated the Trojans for the first time in seven tries, have now won the rotating tournament between UNI, USC, Kentucky and Creighton in two of the last three seasons.
Scores of the match in CU’s favor were 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20.
USC ended the first set on a 5-2 run to take the opener, 25-23, in a frame that saw both teams clicking on all offensive cylinders. Creighton had five players with three or more kills, including six from Megan Ballenger, while hitting .514 as a team. But it wasn’t enough to offset .486 hitting by USC as the Women of Troy had 19 kills and just one attack error, led by seven kills on .583 hitting from Kalen Owes. The score was tied at 23-all when Creighton lost a challenge, and USC took the set on an ace by Emilia Weske.
The Jays tied the match with a 25-23 victory in the second set. Leading 24-20 late, USC saved three set points before a Ballenger kill gave the Jays some momentum heading into the intermission break.
Creighton led nearly all of a third set that featured nine ties. The Bluejays seemed in control with a 23-18 advantage before the Women of Troy answered with a 5-0 flurry that tied the set. Creighton would get the sideout after a Trojan attack error, then win it on a kill by setter Madelyn Cole.
The Bluejays never trailed in the final set, bolting to leads of 7-2 and 14-5 to hold off the nation’s No. 15 team. A kill from redshirt freshman Keeley Davis finished off the Women of Troy. CU hit .438 on the evening.
Ballenger topped CU with 16 kills and four blocks on .414 hitting, and fellow middle blocker Naomi Hickman finished off the best weekend of her career with 11 kills on 15 errorless swings to hit .733. Madelyn Cole authored a third straight double-double with 52 assists and 10 digs, and Brittany Witt provided 19 digs. CU hit .355 as a team and finished with 65 kills, four aces, 60 digs and six blocks.
USC was led by 18 kills by Owes, while Weske added 15 more. The Trojans had 57 kills, nine aces, 57 digs and eight blocks while hitting .282 as a squad.
After three straight weekends on the road, Creighton will be home each of the next three weeks, beginning with the Bluejay Invitational on Friday. Drake takes on No. 16 Washington at 3:30 p.m., before Creighton opens up the 2019 home slate with a 6:00 p.m. match-up vs. Nebraska-Omaha.