DENVER — No. 24 Creighton won two matches at the Denver Invitational on Friday, defeating previously unbeaten Cal State Northridge in straight sets and Denver University in a five-set thriller.
The Bluejays (7-1) will play No. 11 UCLA Saturday afternoon.
In Friday’s nightcap, Creighton had to hang on against home-standing Denver, 25-22, 25-18, 21-25, 23-25, 15-11.
“I’m proud of the way we battled back tonight to prevail in the fifth set,” CU coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “It would have been easy for our kids to hang their heads after losing the third and fourth sets and getting down in the fifth, but we remained calm and were able to beat a good team on their home court in a high-altitude situation.”
Leah McNary had three kills and three blocks in the fifth set to key Creighton’s victory. The junior ended the night with 15 kills and seven blocks. Freshman Lauren Smith from Lincoln Pius X had a career-high 13 kills, and Kelli Browning and Jess Bird each had 10.
Michelle Sicner finished with 49 set assists, nine digs and eight kills.
In the morning match against Cal State Northridge, Smith had 10 kills and five blocks on .909 hitting, as the Jays rolled 25-20, 25-17, 25-12.
Smith’s hitting percentage ranked as the best single-match performance in school history by any player with 10 or more attempts, and came just three days after she tied CU’s single-match record for blocks in a match by a freshman with nine against Kansas.
“Michelle (Sicner) was distributing to Lauren (Smith) at the right time, and then Lauren was doing what she does well,” Booth said. “She’s quick up, she works around things and has good vision. She’s done a great job.”
Smith led Creighton with 10 kills and five blocks. Bird and McNary each had eight kills, while Kate Elman topped the defense with eight digs. Creighton hit .395 in the match and had 41 kills, six aces, 28 digs and six blocks.
CSUN was led by eight kills each from Natalie Allen and Cieana Stinson, while Kelcie Randazzo had seven digs. The Matadors had 35 kills, one ace, 27 digs and six blocks on .193 hitting.