Creighton volleyball coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth rarely looks ahead, especially with the Bluejays’ tough schedule.
Each of CU’s next 15 matches are against teams that are .500 or better.
“If I look too far in front, it’s daunting,” she said.
It’s the same this weekend at the Denver Invitational.
In a short week of practice because of Tuesday’s victory over Kansas, the No. 24 Bluejays have been focusing on their first two matches against Cal State Northridge and Denver. They planned to start worrying about Saturday’s 1 p.m. matchup with No. 11 UCLA when they arrived in Colorado on Thursday.
Northridge and Denver are scary enough.
Northridge, which CU plays at 11 a.m. Friday, is 6-0 and off to its best start since 1997. Denver, CU’s opponent at 8 p.m. Friday, is 5-2.
“Northridge looks great on tape. They are receiving votes, and they’ve got good offensive parity,” Booth said. “Denver, with a second-year coach, is much improved, and they are playing well.”
The Bruins, who have won four NCAA titles, are 5-1, with their lone loss to No. 10 Hawaii before 10,300 fans in Honolulu. Booth hasn’t seen tape of the Bruins, but assumes they’ll be as good as usual. The Bluejays planned to watch Thursday night when UCLA was scheduled to play Denver.
Booth enters the tournament confident that the 5-1 Bluejays are moving in the right direction.
She likes the way CU bounced back against Kansas after losing its first match last Saturday to California, which is now ranked No. 23.
She thought the Jays played well in the first two sets against the Bears before succumbing to their pressure in the third. On Tuesday, when challenged by the Jayhawks, her team did a better job of staying together mentally.
“How we handle difficult situations is a work in progress,” Booth said, “but I thought we improved from Saturday to Tuesday.”
CU’s middles and backcourt played well Tuesday, Booth said, but she’s seeing a lot of good things. The team’s effort and focus have been strong.
“We have parity and different people stepping up at different times,’’ she said.
They’ll need that effort this weekend.
All three matches should be tough. Booth is looking forward to the challenge.
“This should be fun,’’ Booth said. “I always say the big matches are the most fun.’’