Just as UNO threatened to take momentum in the second set, Creighton’s offense found its groove.
The Jays (9-1) maintained control of the match by ending Game 2 on a momentous 12-0 run — a surge highlighted by their hitters’ aggressive swings.
Junior Keeley Davis had three thunderous kills, senior Naomi Hickman put two down in the middle, freshman Norah Sis blasted one in after CU’s feisty defensive play repeatedly kept a rally alive and senior Jaela Zimmerman clinched the set with a smash from the back row.
It was the decisive moment of Creighton’s Saturday night sweep, which could have featured more drama and tension had the Mavs entered the intermission tied 1-1. Instead, the Jays finished off a 25-17, 25-18, 25-16 win in style.
“I thought we were clean,” CU coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said.
According to Booth, UNO’s fundamentally sound approach can put pressure on its opponents’ offense. The Mavs wait on you to make mistakes, she said. And when the Jays weren’t sharp Saturday, they paid the price.
UNO had an 8-4 lead in the first game, a 14-6 edge in the second set and 5-2 advantage in the last game. But CU made the necessary adjustments each time.
“They’re low-error and they’re just going to battle and fight and scrap,” Booth said. “We needed to play the ugly better.”
Creighton ended up with a season-high 13 blocks — it had 11 apiece in a Friday sweep of SMU and a Saturday morning win over Illinois.
UNO’s Rachel Fairbanks, the junior outside hitter, led her team with 10 kills. Senior Sadie Limback added eight.
But the Mavs’ tough stretch of play continued — they’ve lost five of their past six matches, and three of those were decided in five sets (including a defeat to SMU earlier Saturday). They had CU on the ropes momentarily Saturday night.
UNO (2-6) pulled in front 18-13 on Fairbanks’ perfectly placed kill. But that’s when Creighton caught fire.
The Jays had been hitting under .100 for the match, relying on their defense to set the tone. But they got seven kills during that 12-0 run. Then they hit .323 in the third set.
Zimmerman and Sis finished with 10 kills. Davis added seven.
“My team has my back so we just had fun out there,” Davis said. “We were kind of tired just because we were going up and down, but we were connecting well.”
The victory clinched a Bluejay Invitational championship for Creighton, which defeated Illinois in four sets in its first match of the day.