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Creighton Volleyball downs Wichita State to win Bluejay Invitational

Creighton Volleyball downs Wichita State to win Bluejay Invitational
Courtesy/Creighton University Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — No. 14 Creighton Volleyball won the Bluejay Invitational for the second straight season with a 3-1 victory on Sunday over visiting Wichita State. Senior Jaali Winters was named Bluejay Invitational MVP after 18 kills and 15 digs on Sunday, and finished the weekend with 33 kills and 41 digs when adding her contributions from Friday’s win over Iowa State.

Scores of the match in favor of CU were 23-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-23.

Winters led Creighton (6-3) with 18 kills and added 15 digs in addition to three blocks. Taryn Kloth continued her recent offensive barrage, taking over down the stretch and finishing with 15 kills and a career-high four aces. Also in double-figures was Megan Ballenger, as the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week had 10 kills, four blocks and four digs. Brittany Witt had 22 digs from her libero spot, and Madelyn Cole had a solid all-around match with 48 assists, six digs, four blocks and a season-high four kills. Freshman Annika Welty came off the bench to provide a lift with seven blocks, matching her season total entering the day.

Creighton recorded 60 kills, six aces, 71 digs and 14 blocks on .252 hitting.

Wichita State (4-4) was led by a dozen kills from Megan Taflinger, the lone representative from defending American Athletic Conference champions on the All-Tournament Team. Giorgia Civita had 26 digs to pace the Shockers. WSU had 41 kills, six aces, 69 digs and nine blocks on .112 hitting.

The Shockers fell behind 9-3 early in the match and still trailed by six at 15-9 before flipping the script to overtake the Bluejays late. WSU used a 4-0 serving run from Kali Eaken to take a 21-19 lead, and Tabitha Brown and Emma Wright would combine on a block to clinch the 25-23 first set win for the visitors. WSU served up four aces in the initial set, and got four kills each by Taflinger and Regan Stiawalt.

Creighton evened the match at intermission with a 25-17 victory in the second set. Winters had seven kills in the second set, including consecutive kills to help CU move ahead 20-12. A kill from Kari Zumach sealed the frame.

The Bluejays ran away with the third set, 25-16, thanks to six blocks that limited the Shockers to -.065 hitting in 31 swings. Welty had a hand in four of the rejections, including one of Taflinger on set point.

The fourth set featured 10 ties and four lead changes. CU led just 21-20 before kills from Kloth and Welty pushed the Bluejay margin to 23-20. The teams would trade sideouts to give CU three match points, and the match concluded on that third opportunity when Zumach and Welty stuffed Regan Stiawalt on one of the longest rallies of the afternoon.

With the win, Creighton earned its second Bluejay Invitational title in a row, and third in the last five years. CU is the first school to win the event title three times, and it’s the second time in nine days that the Bluejays have won a championship after sweeping all three matches at last weekend’s SMU DoubleTree Classic.

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