OMAHA, Neb. — Playing in front of a D. J. Sokol record crowd of 2,578 the No. 7 Creighton volleyball team swept No. 13 Kentucky in the Bluejay Invitational presented by First National Bank on Friday, Sept. 1.
Set scores for the match were 25-20, 26-24 and 25-20. The Bluejays improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2013 with the win, one victory shy of matching the best start in the program’s modern history first done in 2006.
Coming off a win at then-No. 3 Washington, and playing in front their first home sellout since 2010, Creighton managed its emotions like a team that’s played in consecutive Sweet 16’s and won big matches before.
UK scored the first point of the match, but that would be the only Wildcats lead in the first two sets. Creighton went ahead 7-4, though Kentucky (3-1) tied the score at 9-9. A kill from Megan Ballenger gave CU the lead for good in the first frame. A key turning point was a kill from Marysa Wilkinson to give the Bluejays a 23-18 lead. It came after Taryn Kloth hustled to keep a ball alive in front of the Bluejay bench, and middle blocker Wilkinson passed the ball over her head with a blind bump that improbably, fell to ground on the Kentucky side for a kill. The Bluejays won the first frame by a score of 25-20. Creighton had three blocks and hit .314 in the first set, led by four kills by Jaali Winters.
Creighton never trailed in the second set, though it wasn’t without drama. The Bluejays looked in control with a 19-13 lead in the second set before the Wildcats rallied to knot the score at 23-all. The teams traded sideouts to knot the score at 24-all, before Ballenger and freshman Naomi Hickman teamed to stuff Avery Skinner at the net to earn a set point. Winters would put away a kill after an overpass to send the Jays to the locker room with a 2-0 lead. Winters had seven kills in the second set as CU hit .343. Lydia Dimke dished 14 assists, spread across four teammates, while also adding four digs and a kill of her own.
Kentucky led for the first half of the third set before consecutive aces by Dimke gave Creighton a 15-14 lead. CU wouldn’t trail again. The Jays went up 23-18 on an ace by Samantha Bohnet and picked their second consecutive victory over a ranked team with a Wildcat service error on match point. Bohnet had five digs in the final set for CU as the Jays repeatedly kept alive swings by Kentucky’s potent offense. Dimke had 10 assists, three aces and two kills in the final set while directing the Bluejays to a .406 hitting percentage.
Winters led Creighton with 15 kills and .400 hitting in the match, while Dimke finished with 31 assists, seven digs, three aces and six kills on .857 hitting. The Bluejays recorded 45 kills, five aces, 44 digs and 6.5 blocks on .353 hitting.
Kentucky was led by 18 kills by Leah Edmond and 14 more from Avery Skinner, but the rest of the team had just 13 terminations. Gabby Curry had a match-best 14 digs for the UK defense. Kentucky recorded 45 kills, three aces, 42 digs and 3.0 blocks on .243 hitting overall.
Play continues in the Bluejay Invitational on Saturday with four matches. Kentucky meets UNI at 10 am, followed by Creighton vs. No. 18 USC at 12:30 pm. The evening session begins at 6 pm when USC meets Kentucky, followed by the 8 pm finale when Creighton hosts UNI. UNI defeated USC in four sets on Friday in the first match of the Bluejay Invitational.