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Sophomore libero Elman is 'primary cog' for Jays

Sophomore libero Elman is 'primary cog' for Jays

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Sophomore libero Elman is ‘primary cog’ for Jays

Sophomore libero Kate Elman is the 12th Bluejay to reach 1,000 career digs. She has 1,012 digs in 59 matches, making her the third fastest to reach that milestone in Creighton history.

Kate Elman isn't the only libero in the family any more.

The Creighton sophomore says her sister Lexi is now playing the back-row position at the University of Pacific.

“I never in a million years thought she'd be playing libero,'' Kate Elman said. “She's doing a great job, and I'm really proud of her.''

Lexi Elman is a 6-footer who arrived at Pacific this year as a six-rotation outside hitter before moving to the starting libero spot midway through this season. She set a freshman record with 30 digs against BYU and in a win over Portland on Thursday, surpassed the season record. She had 15 digs and stands at 397.

At 5-5, Kate Elman is the shortest member of the family. Her twin, Taylor, is a 6-3 pitcher and infielder for the Creighton baseball team. Older sister Kelsey, who is 5-8, played outside hitter at Nebraska Wesleyan from 2008 to 2010.

Still, Elman plays big for the Bluejays, who host Georgetown (10-18, 4-11) at 7 p.m. on Friday and Villanova (12-16, 4-11) at 1 p.m. on Sunday at D.J. Sokol Arena. She said it's her job to talk to the team and make sure they're fired up and the defense is scrappy when chasing the ball.

Last weekend, Elman became the 12th player in Creighton history to reach 1,000 career digs. She had a season-best 25 in a loss to Seton Hall and has 1,012 in 59 matches, the third fastest to reach that milestone in CU history.

“Kate really has been a primary cog for us, particularly with her serve receive,” CU coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said. “She's also a good leader, a high-energy kid who's a competitor. She's a workhorse in the gym.''

Both Elman girls starred at Omaha Marian while Taylor did the same in baseball at Omaha Creighton Prep.

Booth didn't recruit Lexi because she didn't have an opening at her position.

“She was a high volleyball IQ kid, she played six rotations, she had good vision and she had good ball control, which is a testament to why she moved to libero,” Booth said. “I had a chance to watch her on television and she was playing really well.”

The sisters text or call each other after every game. Kate Elman hasn't given her sister any advice on playing the position; she said they've picked up a lot just by watching each other play.

With her own games and practices and studying for a nursing career, Elman said it's been hard to keep up with how her younger sister's team is doing.

Pacific is 12-15. Creighton, meanwhile, is 19-7 and at 10-4 sits in third place in the Big East.

The Bluejays will be looking for two wins this weekend to bolster their seed for the league tournament, which Creighton will host next Friday and Saturday.

“Hopefully, if we do win these two, we will move up,'' Elman said. “With a 12 RPI, I think we're in pretty good shape (to qualify for the NCAA tournament).”

This weekend will mark the final regular-season home matches for 6-2 middle blocker Savannah Smith, who is graduating in the spring. She'll be honored before Sunday's match.

Smith is a great leader on and off the court, Elman said.

“When it comes to our team, whether she was on the bench or on the court, she just played very selflessly,'' Elman said. “That's something our team needs to take from her. She did that very well.''

Contact the writer:

402-444-1034, marjie.ducey@owh.com

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