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Creighton takes out South Dakota in five sets

Creighton takes out South Dakota in five sets

VERMILLION, S.D. – No.14 Creighton Volleyball dropped the first two sets before storming back to win the final three frames in a 3-2 win at South Dakota on Sunday afternoon at Sanford Coyote Sports Center in Vermillion, S.D. The turnaround came just 43 hours after South Dakota had pulled off a similar reverse sweep over the Bluejays in Omaha.

Scores in favor of Creighton on Sunday were 18-25, 24-26, 25-20, 25-23, 15-7.

In a post-match interview, Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth was quick to point out the similarities between the two programs. “The biggest testament of that happening at both places is that both teams are resilient. South Dakota didn’t give up with their backs against the wall on Friday, and Creighton didn’t give up today. There’s a lot of strengths for both teams. South Dakota is a dang good team, but I love the way that our team competed. I saw great heart from the team, and that’s a good sign.”

Keeley Davis had 20 kills and 17 digs, while Jaela Zimmerman also notched a double-double with 14 kills and 13 digs. Ellie Bolton had 21 digs and fellow freshman Kiara Reinhardt finished with eight kills and three aces while serving a match-ending 7-0 run for Creighton. The Bluejays had 63 kills, 10 aces, 66 digs and 7.0 blocks while hitting .225 as a team.

Elizabeth Juhnke led all players with 23 kills for South Dakota, and added a dozen digs. Sami Slaughter added 16 kills but had just two blocks after nine rejections in Friday’s win over the Bluejays. The Coyotes had 58 kills, seven aces, 66 digs and 7.0 blocks on .275 hitting.

After winning the final three sets by the minimum two points on Friday against Creighton, USD hit .481 to earn a 25-18 victory in the first set. Juhnke and Aimee Adams each had five kills for the Coyotes to help overcome six kills from Davis.

The second set featured 16 ties and eight lead changes. Creighton squandered a pair of set point chances as South Dakota scored the final four points of a 26-24 win to take a 2-0 lead into intermission. Lolo Weideman served the final three points for USD and had one of five Coyote aces in the frame.

Creighton pulled out a must-win third set despite a stretch of five straight attack errors that had the Jays on the wrong side of an 18-17 deficit. But clutch serving from Mahina Pua’a got the visitors back in front 21-18, and Davis authored consecutive aces to force a fourth set. Bolton had nine digs in the third set alone for CU.

The fourth set was tied at 21 before Creighton scored three straight points on a kill by Zimmerman and back-to-back putaways by Annika Welty. USD saved two set points before Keeley Davis hammered home a back row attack to force a fifth set. The Jays hit .350 in the game and won despite USD hitting .387.

Creighton fell behind 4-2 early in the fifth set before Ally Van Eekeren served up two aces in a row during a 5-0 Bluejay run put the Jays in front 7-4.  Creighton led 8-7 before earning a sideout on Davis’ 19th kill of the afternoon. Reinhardt did the rest, contributing an ace during her match-ending run at the service line. CU won the match when Slaughter’s attack went wide as the Bluejays could finally relax after winning its first road match of the season.

“I think we’ve got kids that are pretty mentally tough. It definitely felt like a road match today,” said Booth. “The energy was really heavy towards South Dakota and I think it was good for our players to feel and embrace that.”

Creighton is scheduled to play its next four matches vs. No. 25 Marquette, starting with a pair of non-conference match-ups this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. inside D.J. Sokol Arena.

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