Following eight matches in more than a month away from home, the Creighton volleyball team needed some time to readjust to its old digs in the first Big East match at Sokol Arena.
After blowing a 21-17 lead in the opening set by losing 10 of the final 14 points, the Bluejays ratcheted up their defense the rest of the way to knock off DePaul 25-27, 25-18, 25-14, 25-16 in front of 1,267.
Kelli Browning led Creighton with 14 kills, while Michelle Sicner and Jess Bird each added 12 as CU improved to 11-4 and 2-1 in the Big East.
The Bluejays held the Blue Demons to .093 hitting while registering 13 blocks.
Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said she was disappointed in her team's defensive performance in a split last weekend with Butler and Xavier. But she liked watching her team turn it around against DePaul after the first-set loss.
“I thought early on, our defense could have been better, but I really liked what we did the last two games,” Booth said. “Not only back row, but our blocking really took over the match. And I saw us getting a rhythm in games three and four.”
The Blue Demons turned away two Creighton set points in the first set to cap the come-from-behind win.
Sicner, whose 12 kills tied a career high, had a busy night. She added three blocks, 12 digs and 39 set assists.
She said letting the lead slip away in the first set was an eye-opener.
“After that game we said that can't happen because we had the lead the whole game,” Sicner said. “To let them come back at the end, to get that momentum going to the second game, you know, that was unacceptable.”
The Bluejays stormed back in the second set, never trailing to tie the match at a set apiece.
Browning led Creighton with six kills on seven swings in the second set, and the Bluejays outhit DePaul .324-.241.
The Blue Demons had the momentum again following intermission as they scored the first three points of the third set.
But Creighton erased that deficit by taking the next four points and outscoring DePaul 21-11 the rest of the way.
Creighton registered six blocks in the set, and eight Bluejays were credited with at least one dig as they held DePaul to minus-.172 hitting to build a 2-1 lead.
“We put a lot of emphasis on defense and blocking this week,” Booth said. “So it was good to see the transfer during the match.”
The fourth set was tied 6-6, but the Bluejays busted it open with an 11-3 run to go up 17-9 and cruising to the win.
After winning their first 13 matches of the season — all nonconference — DePaul has gone 1-3 in Big East play to fall to 14-3 overall.
The Bluejays have a challenge Sunday at 1 p.m. when they host Marquette (11-4, 3-0), which boasts a No. 15 RPI.
DePaul (14-3, 1-3) .................................... 27 18 14 16
At Creighton (11-4, 2-1) ............................ 25 25 25 25
DPU (kills-aces-blocks): Natalie Rizzo 5-0-7, Abbie Fleener 12-0-2, Callie Huebener 8-1-3, Vesela Zapryanova 12-1-1, Colleen Smith 1-1-1, Randi Leath 4-0-3, Tyler Graham 0-0-0, Lexi Chanos 0-0-0, Genesis Reyes 0-0-0, Anastasiya Shutava 0-0-0, Allyson Rooks 0-0-0, Laura Witt 1-0-0.
CU: Ashley Jansen 1-0-0, Melanie Jereb 3-3-3, Kelli Browning 14-0-8, Michelle Sicner 12-1-3, Jess Bird 12-2-5, Lauren Smith 9-0-3, Katie Neisler 0-0-0, Savannah Smith 0-0-0, Amanda Foje 0-0-0, Kate Elman 0-3-0, Leah McNary 7-0-1, Lizzy Stivers 0-2-0.
Set assists: DPU 39 (Smith 28, Rooks 4, Witt 3, Graham 2, Zapryanova 1, Shutava 1), CU 55 (Sicner 39, Elman 6, Bird 4, Jereb 4, Jansen 1, Foje 1). Att.: 1,267.