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Creighton Volleyball wins SMU DoubleTree Classic

Creighton Volleyball wins SMU DoubleTree Classic
Courtesy/Creighton University Athletics

DALLAS, Texas — Tournament MVP Megan Ballenger tied her career-high with 16 kills as the No. 15 Creighton Volleyball team swept SMU to finish off an unbeaten weekend and win the title of the SMU DoubleTree Classic.

Scores of Creighton’s third sweep in 30 hours were 27-25, 26-24, 25-21.

Creighton (4-2) won the opening set, but needed extra points to do so. The Bluejays led most of the set and seemed in control with a 24-21 lead, only to surrender four straight points. The Jays fended off a set point chance by the Mustangs thanks to a service error, then won the set after Jaali Winters and Naomi Hickman provided a block following a Winters kill pushed CU to a fourth set point opportunity. SMU (1-4) produced eight blocks in the set, including seven from Meryn Kennedy.

Just like the initial set, Creighton won the second set in extra points after surviving a SMU set point opportunity. The Bluejays trailed 8-4 early and played from behind for much of the set. With the score tied at 17, the teams alternated points for 14 straight points to tie the score at 24. Winters ended the set with consecutive aces, her first two of the day. Creighton hit .293 in the second set victory.

Creighton scored the first three points of the final set and never trailed, extending the margin to 16-8. The Mustangs closed within 24-21 late before Ballenger’s final kill of the day gave CU its fifth tournament title in the past two seasons. Ballenger had six kills in seven swings in each of the final two sets to lead CU to its fifth tournament title in the past two seasons.

“Megan came up with some clutch attacks and blocks at key times,” said CU head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. “They shut her down on a shot twice early, and that just makes Megan angry. She was on fire from that point forward.”

Ballenger’s 16 kills required just 23 swings, as the junior hit .609 for the afternoon to earn MVP honors for the SMU DoubleTree Classic. She finished her weekend hitting .529 with 31 kills in 51 swings, adding seven blocks in nine sets. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Madelyn Cole (40 assists, 7 digs today and 114 assists and 26 digs for the weekend) and Brittany Witt (17 digs today and 40 on the weekend). CU hit .213 and finished with 46 kills, four aces, 59 digs and seven blocks.

SMU was paced by 17 kills and 10 digs by Brittany Adams. Kennedy finished with 10 of the Mustangs’ 14 blocks, and Omaha native Lily Heim added 11 assists. SMU recorded 40 kills, three aces, 45 digs and hit .194 overall.

Creighton returns to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. when it hosts No. 5 Nebraska (4-1) at CHI Health Center Omaha. More than 10,000 tickets have already been sold for the contest. CU also hosts the Bluejay Invitational on Friday-Sunday next weekend on campus, part of a busy week against top-notch competition.

“We have three great matches in front of us this weekend,” said Booth. “We need to prep for Nebraska, Iowa State and Wichita State. All three are outstanding teams, and two of them beat us last year so there’s no question we will have great respect for all of them. The Nebraska match will be a great showcase for the awesome volleyball talent in this state and we hope the volleyball fans will come out and enjoy a great match.”

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