The Creighton volleyball team is ready to hit the gas on what could be another big season.
The No. 25 Bluejays, 29-4 last season, travel to Ohio to play No. 13 Brigham Young at 3:30 p.m. Friday and host Bowling Green at 9 a.m. Saturday, part of the Hampton Inn Invitational.
It’s a challenging start, but one the team is embracing.
“We’re really excited to show what we’ve been working on over the summer and over the preseason so far. To show what we can do,” junior middle blocker Kelli Browning said. “I don’t think we’re nervous. We’re just anxious to get going and see how our training will match up.”
Playing such tough teams right off the bat is no accident. Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth wanted the challenge, and she’s going to get it.
BYU returns three starters as well as its libero from last year’s 28-4 team that reached the Sweet 16.
The Cougars will be without 6-foot-7 All-American Jennifer Hamson, who has decided to redshirt to concentrate on basketball, but they have plenty of other firepower, Booth said.
Bowling Green went 22-11 last season and returns five starters and its libero. Booth says the Falcons will be in the Top 25 by the end of the year.
“What I’ve seen on tape, they just don’t beat themselves,” she said. “They’re disciplined and well coached and know how to win.”
Both teams have to replace some personnel, and the Jays are hoping they can take advantage of some of those first-match jitters.
Of course, those opponents might be thinking the same thing about the Jays. They have four starters plus their libero back, but because they have no seniors, opponents might think they can bowl over what seems to be a young squad, Browning said.
“I really don’t think that is going to hold us back any. If anything, it’s a motivator,” Browning said. “Yes, we are a young team, but we’re still a force to be reckoned with.”
Booth could still do some tweaking, but she said she has her lineup mostly set for the weekend. She planned to share her rotation with the team at practice Friday morning.
It’s information she didn’t want to share, but she said she has the pieces to be successful.
The key this weekend will be to limit unforced errors, not give points away and serve and pass well.
“We’re playing two awesome teams,” she said. “Which team handles adversity best will come out the victor.”
That’s where the gas pedal analogy comes in. CU can either make errors when things aren’t looking good or it can make great plays and bounce back.
Some teams get nervous and don’t respond. Booth said she wants the Bluejays to press the gas pedal.
“I want to see us play with joy,” she said. “I think this team, when they play with great energy, can really do some special things.”