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Creighton volleyball debuts in rankings after massive weekend

Creighton volleyball debuts in rankings after massive weekend

John Cook discusses the undefeated showdown between the Huskers and Jays this week.

Creighton earned some national recognition Monday for its best start in program history, moving into the rankings at No. 19 in the coaches Top 25, released Monday.

The Bluejays landed just outside the rankings the season's first two weeks, but defeated Southern California in five sets, upset then-No. 3 Kentucky and swept Northern Iowa last week to improve to 6-0.

Now they're a top 20 team.

But another major test is up next.

The Jays will host host No. 3 Nebraska (5-0) in their home opener Wednesday at CHI Health Center. Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said she mentioned the CU-NU match to her team for the first time Saturday evening, right after the UNI victory.

"Nebraska's such a phenomenal program and we've never beat them," she said. "But we feel like we get to go play loose and get after it. That was kind of our philosophy (Saturday)."

Creighton's 0-17 all time against the Huskers, though the recent matches have been increasingly more competitive. NU has swept the Jays once in the past five meetings.

Wednesday's showdown will be the third straight match where both Nebraska and Creighton are ranked.

The Huskers are on high alert.

Coach John Cook said Monday that he thinks the Jays' early-season résumé is second only to Texas — the nation's No. 1 team won at Minnesota and beat Stanford last week.

"I'd vote them second," Cook said of Creighton. "We've got our hands full. It'll be a great challenge."

The last time these teams played in Omaha, Nebraska erased a 2-0 deficit and won in five sets. The largest regular season volleyball-only crowd in NCAA history — 14,022 — showed up for that.

It'll be an electric atmosphere again Wednesday. Booth said one of the keys for the Jays will be to harness that energy properly.

CU players were at their best Saturday against Kentucky, last season's national champion, because they shook off the nerves and played stress-free. That'll be important against Nebraska, too.

"We've got to just go for it and let the chips fall in every match," Booth said. "If we can get to that point consistently, we can be a pretty good team."

The Big East also named Creighton senior Jaela Zimmerman its offensive player of the week and Norah Sis its freshman of the week Monday.

***

Creighton announced earlier this month that it has instituted a face mask mandate inside all buildings on campus, a policy that will also extend to CHI Health Center on Wednesday.

That means that fans attending the volleyball match must wear a mask in the arena.

CU will also require masks this weekend when the team plays three matches at Sokol Arena. Masks will be required inside Morrison Stadium's indoor spaces for Creighton men's and women's soccer matches.

The mask policy is in effect at least until the end of the month, when it will be reevaluated, according to a university press release.

Videos: Watch all the key moments from Nebraska's Monday press conference

Check out all the video from the Monday Nebraska press conference including John Cook previewing Husker volleyball's huge match with Creighton. Scott Frost and several players look ahead to Nebraska's challenge against Buffalo. 

Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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