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Creighton Volleyball downs DePaul

Creighton Volleyball downs DePaul

OMAHA, Neb. — The No. 12 Creighton volleyball team ended the regular season with a four-set win against DePaul on Sunday during Senior Day at D.J. Sokol Arena.  With the win Creighton (24-4, 17-1 BIG EAST) became the first team in BIG EAST history to win six straight outright volleyball titles.

The Bluejays defeated the Blue Demons by scores of 25-19, 25-21, 25-27, 25-21.

Jaela Zimmerman paced the Creighton offense for a second straight match with 17 kills, while Keeley Davis added 13 kills and added 11 digs for her first career double-double. Creighton tallied 14 aces as seniors Madelyn Cole and Brittany Witt each had four service winners. Cole also had 43 assists, while Witt ended the afternoon with 27 digs to become the second player to surpass the 2,000 dig milestone in her career.

The Bluejays also had 14 blocks, led by Naomi Hickman with 10 and Annika Welty with six. It was Hickman’s third contest this fall with 10 or more blocks, and second straight.

Preseason All-BIG EAST hitter Brittney Maxwell led DePaul with 17 kills, while Natalie Hayward posted 41 assists and 15 digs. The Blue Demons had three different players record at least 15 digs as the squad finished with 72 digs.

Creighton trailed early in the first set before a DePaul service error and three straight service aces by Cole gave the Bluejays an 8-4 lead. DePaul pulled with one at 9-8 but never regained the lead. Kills by Jaela Zimmerman and Annika Welty and three more consecutive aces, this time by Witt, gave the Bluejays a 14-8 edge. Creighton led by as many as seven in the opening set before winning by six.

The Bluejays erased an early 2-1 deficit and took the second set by four points. Creighton gained its first lead of the second frame with a kills by Davis and three more points with Davis behind the serving line. DePaul battled back to tie the match at 8-8 before the Bluejays called timeout and responded with a six straight points, including two kills from senior Megan Ballenger, to grab a 14-8 advantage. DePaul never got closer than four the rest of the set and Creighton ended the set with six blocks.

The third set featured seven ties and three lead changes as DePaul earned a 27-25 win. Creighton trailed 19-13 and continued to fight back until tying the match at 24-24 with a kill by Zimmerman. The Bluejays saved two set points before a service ace by Maxwell ended the frame.

DePaul jumped out to an early 7-1 lead in the fourth set. Following a Creighton timeout, Cole delivered a kill and served to help the Bluejays cut the deficit to three at 7-4. Creighton trailed by only one at 11-10 after a service ace from Welty (her first of 2019) and the Bluejays gained a 16-12 edge with five of the next six behind two kills apiece from Davis and Ballenger, as well as an ace from Zimmerman. DePaul rallied to tie the match at 18-18, but Creighton did not give up the lead and Zimmerman ended the match with her 17th kill of the afternoon.

DePaul ended its season at 14-16 overall and 6-12 in BIG EAST action while seeing its three-match win streak come to an end.

Creighton will continue its season in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship. The top-seeded Bluejays will face fourth-seeded St. John’s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Creighton swept both regular-season matches with St. John’s this season, and has won the last 13 meetings with the Red Storm, but the teams have never met in the postseason.

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